Female voters are split practically evenly between the two leading presidential candidates, according to a new poll from human rights organization CorporaciÃ³n Humanas.
The poll, which was done face-to-face with 1,287 Chilean women, shows conservative candidate SebastiÃ¡n PiÃ±era 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.
PiÃ±era would carry a first-round election handily with his 35.5 percent, trumping Freiâ€™s 27.7 percent and Marco Enriquez-Ominamiâ€™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 â€œuninterestedâ€ or â€œvery uninterestedâ€ in politics. Just over 83 percent said they â€œneverâ€ or â€œalmost neverâ€ 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 PiÃ±era and Frei. Exactly 25 percent said theyâ€™d abstain from a PiÃ±era/Enriquez-Ominami second-round contest, leaving PiÃ±era to win 38.4 percent to 27.6 percent.
Partisan loyalty is not an influential factor, said respondents, who listed a candidateâ€™s personal characteristics and governmental programs as the leading factors in their decision, at 33.7 percent each. Another 11.3 percent listed the candidateâ€™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.
PiÃ±era 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 â€œhomosexuals, lesbians and other sexual identities,â€ while Frei constitutes the candidate most likely to increase womenâ€™s participation in politics and legalize abortion when a motherâ€™s life is in danger.
Respondents overwhelmingly approved of outgoing leader Michelle Bachelet, the countryâ€™s first woman president. They gave Bachelet a resounding 79 percent approval rating, a marked increase from 2007â€™s 39 percent and 2008â€™s 45 percent. Her efforts toward womenâ€™s rights, closeness with the people and honesty were listed as her top attributes, with 80.3 percent saying that womenâ€™s rights had advanced during her term.
Bacheletâ€™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.
SOURCES: CORPORACIÃ“N HUMANAS
By Daniel Zarchy ( firstname.lastname@example.org)