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Record popularity for President Bachelet

A new Adimark poll released Friday marked 74 percent support for President Michelle Bachelet, who ends her four-year term in March.

Bachelet went up five points since an earlier survey in May, in spite of rising unemployment (now 10.2 percent) and what many Chileans consider a poor handling of recent student protests and teacher strikes.

The brunt for the handling of the education crisis fell on the Ministry of Education — only 27 percent of those polled approve how it was managed.

Since the economic crisis struck Chile in September, Bachelet has surprisingly gone up 32 points in public opinion polls, and she keeps on rising while the economy continues to deteriorate. Some 78 percent approve the way she has handled the economic crisis.

Asked whether the president “was loved by Chileans,” 89 percent said yes.

Interestingly enough, 56 percent of those surveyed who say they are sympathetic to the right-wing opposition also support the president, though not her cabinet or government as a whole.

The government nevertheless received 65 percent of approval. The most popular minister is the Minister of Finance Andres Velasco, with 68 percent of approval. This is probably due to his stubborn policy of saving a portion of copper earnings for a rainy day when the price of copper was high — and for which he was harshly criticized at the time. Now, those earnings are financing social and labor programs to mitigate the impact of the crisis.

Political parties didn’t fare as well. Only 23 percent approved the ruling coalition Concertacion Democratica, while 19 percent approved the main opposition bloc, the right-wing Alliance for Chile.