October 2, 2014 / 5:29 PM / 3 years ago

Approval rating of Chile's President Bachelet falls to new low

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet delivers a speech regarding a tax reform law, during a ceremony in Santiago, September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet saw her approval rating fall for the third straight month in September, though support for her key reforms improved, a poll showed on Thursday.

Overall approval of the center-left president slipped 2 percentage points from August to 47 percent, said pollster Gfk Adimark, Bachelet’s lowest rating in the monthly survey since returning to power in March.

As well as flagging economic growth, there was a spate of bombings in capital Santiago in September, including one that left 14 people injured and another that left a man dead.

Ahead of her second non-consecutive term, Bachelet promised an ambitious tax reform to finance improvements in education and healthcare, and help cut the vast gap between rich and poor.

The wide-ranging reforms have triggered a heated debate, and in particular right-wing politicians and businesses have argued that the tax changes will be a further drag on the economy and could increase unemployment. Doubts as to the final form the tax reform would take also created uncertainty and impacted on its popularity.

However, the poll showed that people’s views of the tax reform have improved slightly after it received final Congress approval in early September. Approval for the reform rose 3 percentage points to 42 percent versus the prior month, with fewer people believing it would hurt jobs and more thinking it would contribute to shrinking income inequality.

The tax reform will increase the government’s coffers by the equivalent of 3 percentage points of gross domestic product by 2018, through a mix of raising corporate taxes and closing some tax exemptions.

Gfk Adimark polled 1,063 people between Sept. 4 and 29, and the survey had an error margin of minus or plus 3 percentage points.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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