Michelle Bachelet’s Government: The Paradoxes of a Chilean President

Gregory Weeks, Silvia Borzutzky


The purpose of this article is to explain the contradictions in Michelle Bachelet’s presidency by focusing on the paradoxical nature of presidential power, the limits on the executive in the Chilean constitution, and how those limits affected President Bachelet’s government. At the outset of her presidency, she faced the problem of wanting to promote inclusive policies while simultaneously experiencing political pressure to maintain elite consensus. Due to institutional and political constraints, Bachelet’s rhetoric of inclusion could not be realized, and she eventually decided to opt for the more traditional elite consensus approach. In our view, the emphasis on achieving elite consensus produced contradictory results. It sustained Bachelet’s personal image as a national leader, but limited her ability to get effective legislation passed. Indeed, the Concertación itself was blamed for inaction rather than the president as an individual.

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