On Sunday evening Chile's two presidential hopefuls - billionaire businessman Sebastian Piñera and Senator Eduardo Frei - began airing five-minute TV spots designed to win votes for the January 17 run-off presidential election. The spots will run through January 14.
Piñera won 45% of the vote in the first vote held Dec. 13, 2009, while Frei won 30%.
The new TV spots for both candidates will be aimed at supporters of the third-place finisher in last December's vote - maverick, progressive Dep. Marco Enriquez-Ominami (MEO).
MEO, only 36 years old, has refrained from endorsing either Piñera or Frei, saying they are both out of sync with the "new" Chile that has emerged during the past 20 years of democracy and economic growth. "The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago," one MEO supporter told the Santiago Times. "And we are still stuck with jerks from the past like Piñera and Frei."
Frei team said their new TV spot will emphasize the diversity of people that have signed on to the Senator's campaign.
Frei - an aging, dour, old-guard politico and former president - fell off the stage this weekend during an appearance in Puerto Montt. In the past he benefited from the legacy of his charismatic father (former President Eduardo Frei Montalva, 1964-1970) and had hoped to benefit this election from the overwhelming popular support - 70% - given to out-going, centre-left President Michelle Bachelet. But Frei has had a tough time trying to re-package himself as a progressive and look convincing to the voters.
Piñera's team said their TV spot will emphasize the nation's yearning for "change" after nearly 20 years of political rule by the centre-left Concertacion political coalition. Still, many citizens wonder how much "change" a successful businessman like Piñera can bring to a country that is already marked by one of the greatest rich/poor gaps in the developing world.
By Steve Anderson - Santiago Times