Chile's president urges voters to go to polls in local elections

Updated: 2016-10-24 10:00


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SANTIAGO - Chile's President Michelle Bachelet on Sunday tried to counter voter apathy by urging citizens to the polls in local elections for mayors and city councilors.

After casting her ballot at a polling station in the capital Santiago, Bachelet, wearing a button that said "I vote," called on people "to go vote, because if you don't, others will make the decisions for you."

In the lead-up to the vote, surveys showed a significant number of eligible voters were uninterested in elections at the community level.

"These elections should matter to everyone, because our most concrete ideals and interests are at stake. That's why I am inviting you to vote, so that Chile can seem more like what citizens want," said Bachelet.

Addressing those who feel that abstention is a form of political statement, Bachelet said "I want them to know that to change things, there is more power in a vote than in staying at home and fuming."

Chile's more than 14.1 million eligible voters could vote for 346 mayors and 2,240 councilors.

In 2012, local elections saw a 60-percent abstention rate. Abstention was also high in presidential and legislative elections that followed in 2013.

Political observers said they expected only 35 percent of voters to go to the polls on Sunday.