Professor Kirsten Sehnbruch reflects on the significance of the election of Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s first right-wing president in two decades.
On January 19, 2010, two decades of government by the Concertación, Chile’s center-left coalition, came to an end. The triumphant winner of the election, Sebastián Piñera, received the congratulations of the outgoing president, Michelle Bachelet, and the defeated Concertación candidate, Eduardo Frei, while his supporters took to the streets to celebrate, honking the horns of their shiny SUVs. The pelolais, upper-class girls with glossy hair and high heels, got lost downtown near Plaza Italia because they had never before ventured beyond the conﬁnes of Santiago’s four high-income districts. More disconcertingly, portraits of Chile’s former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, appeared from nowhere to line the streets in some wealthy areas of town.