Hailed as the face of a new Latin American left, Chile President Gabriel Boric was not only elected in a landslide, he embraced a constitutional rewrite to turn his nation from a neoliberal mining power into a model of humane green development.
But just six weeks in office, Boric faces turmoil, his disapproval rating up more than 30 points, his closest aide under attack for rookie mistakes, the economy sputtering and crime rising.
After two years of a global pandemic with inflation and supply chain troubles exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many heads of government are facing discontent. But the suddenness of Boric’s troubles, and their depth, are especially noteworthy.
“The population doesn’t see the government advancing initiatives that solve their problems,” said Marco Moreno, director of the school of government at Universidad Central in Santiago. “It hasn’t had control of the political agenda and it doesn’t have a coalition that makes its proposals viable in congress.”
Rising disapproval rates now stand to muddle his ambitious policy proposals including tax and pension reforms, which will require legislative backing. More broadly, his challenges pose a warning for other leaders vying for power across Latin America.
For a former student leader who was admired and beloved, Boric, 36, is suddenly the object of wrath. When he visited the city of La Serena last week, a protester threw a rock, forcing his security team to move him to safety. Days earlier, he was heckled by a resident while in the Santiago district of Cerro Navia.