Michelle Bachelet signing law

Bachelet signs a bill into law in June 2014. (Image: Government of Chile)


Chile's Bachelet Tacks Center to Pursue Needed Reform at Home

By Eric Farnsworth

President Michelle Bachelet not only aims to pass an array of reforms, but also to refocus foreign and trade policies, writes COA's Eric Farnsworth for World Politics Review.

Eyebrows arched in Chile at the end of July when President Michelle Bachelet canceled her participation in a summit of MERCOSUR leaders in Caracas, Venezuela, to focus on her domestic agenda. Critics suggested this was because her signature education reforms are in trouble. The Chilean president was elected for a second time at the end of 2013 and inaugurated in March with a mandate for overhauling the country’s education system, and she has moved quickly to introduce the first phase of a process that will ultimately lead to universal free higher education by 2020.

Students have been a well-organized and vocal constituency in Chile for some time, effectively calling attention to their demands through street protests and political pressure. The movement created particular difficulties for Bachelet’s predecessor, Sebastian Pinera, and the 2013 presidential campaign highlighted the need for significant reforms. In May, the administration sent the first part of its reform package to congress. It seeks to increase government support for education while curtailing the profit motive in state-funded schools, increasing and encouraging a more egalitarian approach for student access from nursery school through university....

Read the full article here.