The Pinochet tsunami

Although in their electoral evaluations, political parties tend to ignore their defeats and always express their squeamishness about the winners, this time in Chile no one failed to appreciate the resounding triumph of the Republican Party and the right-wing as a whole. For decades, no single party had been able to win more than 35 percent of the vote on its own, and in addition, none of the competing parties achieved double-digit percentages. This is how the opposition to Gabriel Boric’s government will control more than 3/5 of the members of the next 51-member Constitutional Council, which will be in charge of defining a new Magna Carta after the failure of the previous attempt hegemonised by the centre-left.

Some 12 million voters went to the polls to cast their compulsory ballot with the warning that those who abstained could be condemned with a hefty fine. Nevertheless, some 500,000 citizens did not fulfill their civic duty. These are in addition to the more than two million voters (21 percent) who left their ballot blank or opted to cancel their vote. In many cases, they accused the lack of legitimacy of a process that had been plotted behind closed doors by the legislative and executive branches of government.

Excluding the Republicans, the truth is that the general performance of the political class was very sad and its results cannot prevent the citizens, rather than expressing their interest in the constituent process, from expressing their repudiation of the performance of the current government, which in one year of administration has not been able to recover economic indicators, fulfill the promised social reforms and demonstrate success in the fight against scourges such as delinquency, organised crime and drug trafficking, which are so pervasive in national coexistence.

In this sense, it cannot be ignored that the main loser of these elections is President Boric himself, along with the pro-government leaders. In addition to a high number of expressions that did not even reach five percent of the votes; consolidating in this way the collapse of parties such as the Christian Democracy, the Radical Party, the People’s Party, the PPD and several others that insist on staying alive in order to achieve official positions and multiple benefits, in one of the countries in the world that offers the best emoluments for those who work in the public “service”. Just as there are several others who, with very poor electoral performance, still manage to elect some representatives to parliament and municipalities by virtue of entering into pacts with better-performing parties.

The balance or pendulum of Chilean public opinion has swung back to the right or, worse still, to its most extreme version, given that it is in the Republican Party where the staunchest supporters of the military dictatorship can be found, many of whom to this day refuse to recognise its severe attacks on human rights, such as the surrender of our richest natural reserves to foreign interests.

We must remember that throughout the constitutional process, these were the ones who were always reluctant to replace the Magna Carta inherited from the military regime, which is why it is a paradox that today they will form the majority of the new Constitutional Council and thus define the profile and the rules of the game of our institutionality. It seems very sad that fifty years after the 1973 coup d’état, the task of drafting the new Constitution is now falling to these right-wingers and ultra-Pinochettists.

With words of good manners both the victors and the defeated now promise to make the necessary efforts to consolidate agreements and overcome their pronounced differences. Calls for dialogue and tolerance are everywhere, although it seems very difficult to persevere in this spirit when this new constitutional process promises to be decisive in what happens in the next municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections.

La Moneda promises that it will insist on its economic and social reforms at a time when the tension between the ruling and opposition parties is extreme. So far, it has been demonstrated that the negotiations between the government and the opposition have not been successful if those who want to undertake the changes lack the leadership to call the people to take to the streets to demand social justice. This is not to say that all the great reforms of yesteryear always had this popular effervescence. Such as the Agrarian Reform, the nationalisation of copper and the recovery of democracy, among others.

It is worth noting that the results of these elections also demonstrate the electoral failure of all the years of candidates that the people associated with the governments of the Concertación, the New Majority and the administration of businessman Sebastián Piñera’s own mandate. None of them were elected despite the fact that they were well-known names, as well as very solvent in terms of public spending. Signaling a double defeat for leftist expressions incapable of renewing their faces.

However, for those who believe that this comfortable victory of the right could contribute to social peace, it should be pointed out that among the reactions to this electoral process, the decision of groups that no longer believe in the re-founding intentions of the current government and promise to take the insurrectional route has been heard on the social networks. On the other hand, although there is now a proliferation of calls for the unity of the ruling party, it is known that this defeat will cause more tensions than those that already exist in the two governing alliances and collectivities. Where only the Communist Party was able to get more than 8 percent of the vote.

Juan Pablo Cárdenas

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