Chile’s Allende granddaughter loses mayor election
By EVA VERGARA Associated Press November 13, 2012 6:10PM
In this Nov. 6, 2012 photo, women who won local elections, from left to right, Carolina Leitao, of Penalolen, Maya Fernandez Allende, of Nunoa, Carolina Toha, of Santiago, attend an event calling for more women to participate in public office in Santiago, Chile. Fernandez Allende has escaped political tragedy of four family suicides, including her grandfather Marxist President Salvador Allende who shot himself when he was ousted in a bloody coup. The revival of the Allende dynasty is on the line after a recount of votes at the National Stadium, the same place where dozens of leftist dissidents where tortured and killed after her grandfather was ousted. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
SANTIAGO, Chile — Maya Fernandez Allende, granddaughter of Chile’s late Marxist President Salvador Allende, lost her first major political race Tuesday after a recount, the electoral committee said.
Fernandez Allende, 41, lost the mayorship of Santiago’s Nunoa district by 30 votes to incumbent Mayor Pedro Sabat of the center-right National Renovation party.
Initial results last month put Fernandez Allende ahead and Sabat conceded. But his party demanded a recount at the National Stadium, where dozens of leftist dissidents were tortured and killed during the military dictatorship that ousted her grandfather in 1973. Her grandfather killed himself rather than surrender.
Chile’s electoral committee said Tuesday that Sabat got 34,247 votes to Fernandez Allende’s 34, 217. Sabat has won the district three other times in 16 years.
Fernandez Allende has not spoken publicly since the recount began, but a message to her followers on her Facebook page seemed to predict the reversal of the outcome.
“Let’s put away sadness because this is a victory (in itself),” she said. “We need to learn to work together and put differences aside.”
Sabat, 58, also served as mayor of Nunoa in 1987-89 during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who hand- picked mayors.
During big protests over the past year, students fought fiercely against Sabat, sometimes even occupying his office and closing schools. He reacted by ordering police to crack down on the protests and once even called a girls school a “whorehouse.” Sabat apologized for the comment.
“I’m going to try to refrain from saying what I’ve said when these youngsters spit in my face and destroy schools,” Sabat said at a news conference. “I’ll try to be closer to everyone and try to take a more social approach, in other words, be a better mayor in this next four years.”
For many who participated in the student protest movement, this was their first chance to vote and many saw Fernandez Allende as a figure who could help guide Chile to significant change.
Allende, a socialist who has sided with the students, ran a campaign in which she went door-to-door with an army of women asking about voter demands and looking beyond the divisive politics that have marred Chile for years.
She said she wanted to change what she called Chile’s out-of-touch, right-wing and male-dominated politics.
“I always liked politics, it’s always been a topic of conversation at the family table, an everyday topic,” Fernandez Allende said in a recent interview with the newspaper La Tercera.
“I believe my grandfather and my family took the decision about getting involved in politics because it was their calling,” she said.
Associated Press writer Luis Andres Henao contributed to this report.