Chilean President Ricardo Lagos' Cabinet changes in the aftermath of recent legislative elections have left his economic team unchanged. The most notable appointment was Michelle Bachelet as minister of defense, the first time a woman has held that position.
One of the most significant outcomes of the Dec. 16 elections was the dramatic rise of the far-right Union Democrata Independiente (UDI), which displaced the Democracia Cristiana (DC) as the largest party in Chile.
The gains by the UDI, coupled with losses by the DC that could threaten Lagos' fragile Concertacion de Partidos por la Democracia coalition, made Cabinet changes imperative for Lagos to advance his legislative and political agenda (see NotiSur, 2001-12-21).
In the elections, the governing Concertacion took 61 seats in the lower house, while the rightist Alianza por Chile, which includes the UDI and the Renovacion Nacional, took 56. In the new legislature, which begins March 11, the Concertacion will have 20 elected senators, plus three nonelected senators, while the Alianza will have 18 elected and four nonelected senators.…