SANTIAGO, CHILE — DESPITE a hefty war chest and advice from foreign experts, Hern'an B"uchi's campaign never really caught on. Mr. B"uchi resigned as Gen. Augusto Pinochet's finance minister in April to make a run for the Chilean presidency. His decision was in itself the product of a publicity campaign financed by business leaders and conservatives happy with B"uchi's orthodox, ne-liberal economic model.
His backers expected to capitalize on Chile's economic gains, which include an export boom and relatively low inflation. They portrayed the sportsman as a vigorous technocrat who would lead the country to modernity and economic development. ``B"uchi is the man,'' was the early slogan, accompanied by a photo of the candidate in shirtsleeves.
But the orthodox medicine required for Chile's economic ``miracle'' has meant low wages, poor services, and long-postponed domestic needs.
The majority wanted change.
In an attempt to put some distance between himself and General Pinochet, B"uchi began to promise more attention to popular demands. His 20-point program stressed ``more education, more health, more jobs.''
B"uchi also talked about social discrimination and even human rights abuses under Pinochet. He convinced few opposition voters, but lost some right-wing support to a third candidate, a millionaire industrialist.
In the end, B"uchi opted for an effective standby: playing up fears of the left. In a televised debate, he scored points by attacking opposition candidate Patricio Aylwin for his ``secret pact'' with the Communist Party.
But Chile's political terrain is not propitious for negative campaign tactics. The Marxist threat has been such a part of Pinochet discourse that B"uchi only confirmed what many Chileans had believed - that he represented a continuation of Pinochet's rule.
Polls give B"uchi around 30 percent of the vote.