Chile’s Billionaire President’s Legacy Swept Away by Unrest

(Bloomberg) — As rioting broke out across Chile in October, President Sebastian Pinera watched his political agenda go up in smoke.

Just 18 months after taking office on promises to expand the private pension system, cut taxes for the rich and clamp down on crime, Pinera saw his legislative plans swept away by the biggest street protests and riots since the return of democracy in 1990.

Every single one of his flagship policies is now being ditched, reversed or revised. Under a new finance minister, the government’s efforts are centered on placating protesters through spending increases, upending election pledges to narrow the fiscal deficit. Pinera’s biggest concession, a plan to rewrite the constitution, was negotiated by lawmakers from almost all the main parties. The president, who has resisted calls to resign, only endorsed it two days later.

“His manifesto and policies are gone, done, finished,” said Javier Sajuria, a senior lecturer from Chile at Queen Mary University in London. “He may just become an administrator for a political agenda set by the parties in congress.”

With two-and-a-half years of his mandate to go, Pinera’s approval rating has slumped to 12%, according to the latest poll from Cadem. Some opposition lawmakers have even started an impeachment process, though it is unlikely to succeed.