By Anthony Esposito and Gram Slattery
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s approval rating fell to an all-time low in June amid widening student unrest, the resignation of her cabinet chief and a sluggish economy, a survey by pollster GfK Adimark showed on Wednesday.
Her support slumped to 22 percent in June from 24 percent in May, a trend that may hurt Bachelet as she tries to push through a range of reforms. Her rating was the lowest for any president since Adimark started the polling series in 2006, when Bachelet first assumed office for a four-year term.
“The Adimark poll is an alarm basically, that could be confirmed if the trend is maintained in the next polls,” said political analyst Guillermo Holzmann.
“In the short term, that will mean that conflict and a lack of confidence in the political system will make it very difficult to bring about the current reforms in a reasonable fashion.”
Bachelet is attempting to ease a total abortion ban, reform the nation’s dictatorship-era constitution, and make higher education more affordable. Some leftist legislators in her coalition are also keen to push through additional labor laws in the wake of a major labor reform passed in April.
However, her political capital has been weak in recent months, which has made whipping up votes from the more conservative sectors of her coalition difficult, analysts say.
In June, Interior Minister Jorge Burgos, who also led the cabinet, resigned after policy disputes, while a student protest that ended with violent confrontations with police and the sacking of a Catholic church also sapped the president’s popularity, Adimark said.
Widespread unease over meager economic growth and a rising jobless rate have also weighed on how residents view Bachelet, who took office for a second, non-consecutive term in 2014.
The survey polled 1,064 people from June 3 to 30, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Gram Slattery; Editing by W Simon and James Dalgleish)