Chilean Minister’s Resignation Is Pinera Misstep, Analysts Say

Chilean Energy Minister Fernando Echeverria’s resignation last night over a conflict of interest after being named to the position July 18 by President Sebastian Pinera may be “costly” and betrays “trend of rushing rather than paying attention to detail,” according to two analysts.

Patricio Navia, a specialist in Chilean politics at New York University, responded in an e-mail to questions on the change:

“The extremely early departure of the new energy minister will be very costly for the Pinera government. Since Echeverria left due to his conflicts of interests, there will be more controversy over the close ties between the Pinera government and the business elite.

“Though the government will claim that Echeverria resigned on his own, before any accusations, the fact that the government did not conduct due diligence before appointing him confirms the accusations that the government is improvising and lacks what it takes to govern responsibly.

“A good part of the positive effect of the Cabinet shuffle earlier this week is now lost, since the press is more preoccupied with Echeverria’s resignation than with the new blood brought in by the new ministers.”

Robert Funk, a political science professor at the University of Chile, commented on the resignation in a telephone interview today:

“I don’t think it will affect approval ratings, other than the fact that in general terms it’s seen as a lack of coordination and not doing things right. This government sold itself in the campaign as one that would do things better rather than implement major changes. And time after time, it has shown that it doesn’t do things better.

“These are silly mistakes that are easy to avoid. Here it appears we’re seeing a trend of rushing rather than paying attention to detail.

“This also confirms impressions of a close tie between this government and businesses, which in a country like Chile isn’t healthy because most people are suspicious about the business world.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Randall Woods in Santiago at rwoods13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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