2013年12月17日

チリのミチェル・バチェレ大統領、二期目の課題

01379294.jpgチリのミチェル・バチェレ大統領、二期目の課題


(Cheel:2013年12月15日の決選投票で、60%もの得票を得て、大差での勝利でチリのミチェル・バチェレ大統領が二期目の当選を決めました。彼女については、昨年、「ミチェル・バチェレ前チリ大統領への質疑応答」と今年「チリの大統領選挙:二人の女性候補の小説以上の因縁」と記事にしたこともあり、とても印象深い方です。

さて、彼女の二期目は、難しい政治課題に取り組みます。まず企業家出身の現ピニェイラ政権では、主要輸出品目の銅の輸出にも恵まれ、高い経済成長を記録しました。失業率は低く、インフラも抑制されたレベルにあります。

しかし、中銀によると、彼女の就任後に予想されるGDPは、5.6%から4%に下がるとしています。銅の国際市況も軟調が続き、貿易黒字も25億ドルから6億ドルに縮小する見込みです。

そんな中、彼女の最優先課題は、教育、とりわけ高等教育の機会均等です。貧困層に対して、高等教育を無償で提供する。そしてそのために法人税を現行の20%から25%に引き上げることが検討されています。

実際に教育の質が担保されて、良質な労働力が提供されるのであれば、それはそれで、一つの選択肢ではあると思います。ただ、現政権で良好なビジネス環境を享受してきた海外企業にしてみると、いわゆる「おねだり」がどこまで続くのか、不安な面はあると思われます。実際に国会においても、彼女は十分な支援を得られるだけの議員数を獲得しているので、政策が通りやすい、いわゆる「強い」大統領です。その一方で、そうした支持を維持するために、賛否両論の案件にも取り組むと思われます。

それはたとえば、「ゲイの結婚」であったり、「堕胎認可」であったりします。カトリックが多く、「結婚観」において保守的なチリでは、「離婚」ですら認められるようになったのは、2000年台半ばの話です。そんな中で、こうした権利に踏み込むというのは、一歩間違うと一気に政治基盤を脅かすものとなります。

それでも、一期目に堅実かつ誠実な政治運営で、高い支持率を得たミチェル・バチェレ大統領なので、うまく課題をさばいていくものと期待をこめて見ています。)

Great expectations for Chile's new president

Winning Chile's presidential election was pretty easy for Michelle Bachelet.

She led the contest from the start and never faced much of a challenge from her bickering centre-right opponents.

The hard part will start in March when she takes office.

Ms Bachelet will inherit a country with an economy that grew by 5.6% last year. Unemployment is low and inflation is under control.

But things are likely to get worse. The growth rate is expected to ease to 4.2% this year and the central bank warns it might drop below 4% in 2014.

The price of copper, Chile's main export commodity, is seen extending its recent decline and the bank expects the country's trade surplus to shrink to $600m (£368m) in 2014 from $2.5bn in 2013.

None of this is good news for an incoming president who is promising sweeping and expensive social reforms.

Education first

Ms Bachelet has placed education at the top of her priorities.

At the moment, Chile's schools and universities rely heavily on household funding to supplement the meagre contributions they get from the state.

She wants to change that, turning the entire apparatus into a state-funded system within six years.

By the end of her four-year term she has promised that the state will pay the tuition fees of the poorest 70% of Chile's higher education students.

"Her proposals reset the clock for the education system, and she'll probably have the support in parliament she needs to get them passed," says Kirsten Sehnbruch, professor of public policy at the University of Chile.

"But the big problem with this strategy, aside from it being a significant investment, is that is doesn't address the issue of quality."

Costly promises

Even Ms Bachelet's closest aides acknowledge her education reforms will be costly, eating up an extra 1.5% to 2% of gross domestic product each year.

She says that money will come from taxes, particularly on big business.

Ms Bachelet plans to raise Chile's basic corporate tax rate from 20% to 25% over four years and to abolish a mechanism that allows companies to defer indefinitely the payment of tax on their re-invested profits.

"I expect the tax reform to be approved within the first year because it only requires a simple majority in parliament," says Claudio Fuentes, a political scientist at the Diego Portales University in Santiago.

"That will pave the way for education reform between 2015 and 2018. Some of the changes she wants to make in education require a fourth-sevenths majority in parliament while others require a three-fifths majority. So, on certain issues she's going to have to negotiate with the right."

New constitution

The other big pledge of Ms Bachelet's campaign is constitutional change.
She says Chile needs a new constitution to replace the one drawn up under Gen Augusto Pinochet in 1980, as well as a new electoral system.

The current one ensures that the two big coalitions get almost all the seats in Congress, split fairly evenly between them. Small parties and independent candidates do not get much of a look-in.

"There's a consensus on the fact that the electoral system needs to go," Ms Sehnbruch says.

"The question is: what do you replace it with? Constitutional reform is more complex and will need more negotiation."

Deep inequality

Many Chileans want Ms Bachelet to address the country's deep economic inequalities.

Of the 34 countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Chile has the biggest gap between rich and poor.
She will also come under pressure from some quarters on ethical issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

At present, Chile has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. The practice is illegal in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger.

Ms Bachelet, a paediatrician by training, wants to change that and has also come out in favour of gay marriage, although the majority of Chileans oppose it.

"I imagine that therapeutic abortion will be legalised but gay marriage at this stage is unlikely to be passed," Ms Sehnbruch says.

Ms Bachelet will have to work hard to keep her broad centre-left coalition united.
The last time she was in power, she governed at the head of a four-party bloc, the Concertacion, but his time around she has seven parties in her rebranded New Majority coalition.

"There are sure to be some problems," Mr Fuentes warns. "Managing seven parties is always going to be trickier than managing two or three."

That said, Ms Bachelet will at least enjoy a healthy parliamentary majority, something she lacked during her first term from 2006 to 2010.

Her coalition will have 68 seats in the 120-seat lower house and 21 of the 38 seats in the Senate.

This should allow her to push through basic legislation quickly and easily.

High hopes

On foreign policy, Ms Bachelet will seek to improve ties with Chile's northern neighbours Peru and Bolivia, both of which have taken Chile to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague over border disputes.

The ICJ is due to rule on Peru's claim in January, before Ms Bachelet takes office. The Bolivian verdict is not expected for some years.

But perhaps the biggest challenge facing Ms Bachelet is the weight of expectation.

After four years of centre-right rule, marked by huge street protests organised by students, workers and environmentalists, Chileans are clamouring for change.

"Expectations are very high, and not just among ordinary people but among the centre-left political elite," Ms Sehnbruch explains.

"The opportunity to make significant changes has now come and yet the presidential term is only four years long.

"To reconcile those two things - the massive agenda of what people want with the reality of what you can do in four years - is going to be very challenging."


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Cheel
ラテンアメリカ研究者。民間セクター開発専門家。趣味は歌・絵画・小説・旅行・スポーツ全般。5言語(英語、スペイン語、ポルトガル語、フランス語、日本語)を駆使して仕事を行う。現在アンゴラ、ルアンダ市在住。
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