Chilean president asks all cabinet members to resign

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet calls on all her ministers to resign, likely due to high disapproval ratings

Photo by: Office of the President, Chile
Photo by: Office of the President, Chile

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet announced on Wednesday that she asked all the ministers in her cabinet to turn in their resignations and she would decide within 72 hours who would stay and who would go.

Speaking to Mario “Don Francisco” Kreutzberger on Channel 13’s “Sabado Gigante” on Wednesday night, she announced “some hours ago I asked all of my ministers to submit their resignation.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the release of the latest poll results from GFK Adimark, which shows Bachelet’s approval rating in April 2015 at an unchanged low of 31 percent and her disapproval rating as 64 percent, up from 61 percent in March.

The first term Bachelet served as president, between 2006-2010, her approval ratings were over 80%. The dramatic drop in her approval ratings during her second term is said to be a result of recent scandals that have been widely covered by the local press and are widely known by the general public.

Chile enjoyed a “low corruption” rating in the Corruption Perception Index, published yearly by Transparency International, in recent years and was considered one of the least corrupt countries in Latin America; however recent scandals are likely to change the country’s rankings in the near future.

The scandals involve Caval, the company owned by Bachelet’s daughter-in-law, receiving a loan arranged by her husband, Bachelet’s son. Caval then used the money to buy land that was resold at a $2.5m profit thanks to improved land usage rights granted by the government.

Bachelet’s son, Davalos Bachelet, had to give up his post as cultural subdirector in his mother’s administration when his dealings came into light.

Before the Cabal case broke out, the Penta case was occupying the headlines, with several deputies and active senators being accused of tax fraud and bribery to receive funds from the Penta Holdings Group in Chile.

On April 28, Bachelet announced on public television a desire to draft a new constitution that would replace the current one established in 1980 under the Pinochet regime, and said she would convene a panel in September.

Senator Isabel Allende, daughter of former President Salvador Allende - who was ousted by Pinochet in 1973 - voiced her support on Twitter, saying Bachelet had “kept her word” to the citizens of Chile.

Political scientist Kenneth Burke, speaking to VICE News, however, believes there is a hidden agenda. “The only way out [of media coverage of corruption cases] was to redirect attention toward the only thing that is bigger than all of the problems - a new constitution,” he said.

Bachelet  also acknowledged in the April 28 broadcast that Chile has “known irregularities, corruption and lack of ethics that affect politics and business” and promised to implement a series of anti-corruption measures to “fight effectively against conflicts of interest, influence peddling and corruption.”

TRTWorld and agencies