Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chilean Elections

Today is election day in Chile. They are voting for Concejal (which I´ve decided is a position comparable to the Senate), and Alcalde (Mayor). This is interesting to me as an American for many reasons: First, because Marcela´s boyfriend, Edgardo Castelli -- the man many years her senior and rejected by her mother (thus never allowed one step into the house) -- is running for Concejal. A month ago I awoke one morning to rediscover my little city completely covered with giant posters of his face. These posters were quickly joined by countless others running for office. It is their propaganda. Effective? Who knows. By the time I took the attached photo, there were so many giant posters with people´s faces plastered on them, I had no idea who was who.
Second, I learned that here in Chile, if you don´t vote, you must pay a fine. In other words, you are bound by the law to vote. The only exception is if you never register to vote (which would demonstrate an extreme lack of interest in your country and community, if you ask me). In this case, the gov´t has no means of enforcing your participàtion today.
Third point of interest, is the occupation of the voting points (my HS being one of them) by the military. Liceo A-7 closed Thursday and will not reopen until Wednesday of next week. I am not complaining ... just, why all the drama? Marcela explained this probably has something to do with a tradition from the time of Pinochet´s military reign. I´m talking men all over the place with guns and military garb. I suppose that would make one think twice before rigging a ballot or even worse, voting against the big guy (Pinochet in this case).
Fourth, there are four main voting points here in Vallenar, and I also discovered that two are strictly for voting females, and two for voting males. Why the separation? Noone seems to have an answer to this question. I don´t think I like it. Call me anti old-fashioned...

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