Chile’s President Boric Sees Disapproval Ratings Rise

The former student protest leader is coming under increased scrutiny ahead of the anniversary of a wave of protests that started on Oct. 18, 2019

The president is also facing pressure for faster action on crime and violence amplified by fears that demonstrations this week may lead to looting.
By Matthew Malinowski
October 17, 2022 | 02:52 PM

Bloomberg — Chilean President Gabriel Boric’s approval rating sunk to an all-time low as voters say one of Latin America’s richest nations is worse off three years after massive protests against inequality and poor government services.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents back the head of state, down from 50% when he assumed office seven months ago, according to a Cadem poll released late Sunday. Another 65% disapprove of Boric, up from 20% in March.

The former student protest leader is coming under increased scrutiny ahead of the anniversary of a wave of protests that started on Oct. 18, 2019, and which brought much of the country to a standstill. Voters have grown frustrated over slow progress in pledges for better public services. The president is also facing pressure for faster action on crime and violence amplified by fears that demonstrations this week may lead to looting.

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Ninety-three percent of respondents said crime is worse now than three years ago, 75% said the nation’s economy has deteriorated and 71% said poverty is worse. Nearly half said both education and healthcare have declined.

The protests in late 2019 saw hundreds of shops looted and the army brought back onto the streets for the first time since the military dictatorship. It also thrust Boric into the spotlight, as his calls for social justice and human rights reverberated among voters who turned their backs on traditional political parties.

Still, the new constitution drawn up after the protests was overwhelmingly rejected in a September referendum, and lawmakers are now engaged in slow-moving talks on how to proceed with modifications to the nation’s charter.

On Sunday, Interior Ministry Undersecretary Manuel Monsalve said 25,000 police officers will be on the streets on Tuesday to maintain law and order on the protest anniversary. The announcement came days after Boric vowed that his administration would be like “dogs in going after crime.”

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Meanwhile, Chile’s economy is expected to contract next year as domestic demand and investments drop, according to the central bank. The annual inflation rate currently stands at 13.7%, near the highest in three decades.

The Cadem poll surveyed 703 people by phone on Oct. 12-14. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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