The concepts of fragile, failed or collapsed states are usually applied to states where the principles of territorial unity, legitimate monopoly over the use of force and constitutional law do not apply – among them many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, or Afghanistan. Latin America, however, is only rarely included in these analyses of fragility.
The victory of Michelle Bachelet in the second-round of Chile’s presidential election on Sunday 15 January was in the end decisive. The result – Bachelet received 53.45% of the vote against 46.5% for her rival, Sebastián Piñera – confirmed opinion-poll predictions and the voters’ own forecasts.
Michelle Bachelet, the 54-year-old paediatrician who once described herself as incarnating “all the capital sins: socialist, my father’s daughter, divorced and an agnostic”, is set to become Chile’s first woman president after winning 53.45% of the vote in the 15 January run-off election.
Votes are counted quickly and transparently in Chile. When Bachelet’s victory was confirmed at 6.30pm on Sunday, all over Chile her supporters poured onto streets and plazas to celebrate. Improvised motor cavalcades formed with flags flowing from car windows and horns blasting. Thousands of women donned presidential ribbons to mark their collective victory. By 7.00pm, Bachelet’s contender, billionaire businessman Sebastian Piñera, had graciously conceded defeat.