Female voters are split practically evenly between the two leading presidential candidates, according to a new poll from human rights organization Corporación Humanas.

The poll, which was done face-to-face with 1,287 Chilean women, shows conservative candidate Sebastián Piñera slightly edging out center-left candidate Eduardo Frei, 38.1 percent to 36.9 percent, in a run-off contest. The survey has a 3.2 percent margin of error.

Piñera would carry a first-round election handily with his 35.5 percent, trumping Frei’s 27.7 percent and Marco Enriquez-Ominami’s 12.2 percent. MEO, as the press has dubbed Enriquez-Ominami, is running as an independent. Unless any of the candidates can win over 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers must compete in a second round.

The poll also showed a strong apathy for politics among women, with 67.8 percent of registered voters and 83.5 percent of unregistered voters describing themselves as “uninterested” or “very uninterested” in politics. Just over 83 percent said they “never” or “almost never” talk about politics.

Another 16.4 percent said they would not vote in the first round of the presidential election while 19.1 percent said that they would refrain from a second round between Piñera and Frei. Exactly 25 percent said they’d abstain from a Piñera/Enriquez-Ominami second-round contest, leaving Piñera to win 38.4 percent to 27.6 percent.

Partisan loyalty is not an influential factor, said respondents, who listed a candidate’s personal characteristics and governmental programs as the leading factors in their decision, at 33.7 percent each. Another 11.3 percent listed the candidate’s political party as the most important factor; 5.6 percent said that they would base their decisions principally on which coalition supports each candidate.

Piñera was listed as the candidate most likely to prevent violence against women and to find equal jobs for women in his presidential term. Enriquez-Ominami is seen as most likely to protect the rights of “homosexuals, lesbians and other sexual identities,” while Frei constitutes the candidate most likely to increase women’s participation in politics and legalize abortion when a mother’s life is in danger.

Respondents overwhelmingly approved of outgoing leader Michelle Bachelet, the country’s first woman president. They gave Bachelet a resounding 79 percent approval rating, a marked increase from 2007’s 39 percent and 2008’s 45 percent. Her efforts toward women’s rights, closeness with the people and honesty were listed as her top attributes, with 80.3 percent saying that women’s rights had advanced during her term.

Bachelet’s best move, according to the poll, was the increase in the per-child pension given to women, which 34.3 percent listed as her top policy.


By Daniel Zarchy (

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