Gabriel Boric's Victory

Image: Osvaldo Castillo


If the various Latin American lefts celebrate the defeat of the neo-Pinochetist excrescence embodied by Kast, they must realize that it is also about them that the fable is talking.

With the presidential elections in Chile, Latin America closes 2021 with an event of a transcendent nature. Gabriel Boric Font defeated José Antonio Kast by a resounding margin of almost 12% of votes, in an election that broke the national participation record. After massive demonstrations in Colombia, upheavals in Brazil with the annulment of Lula da Silva's convictions and the defeat of Peronism in the Argentine parliamentary intermediate elections, the Chilean presidential election crowned a process of mass political mobilization that began in 2019 and led to the convening of a Constitutional Convention that buried the Pinochet era for good, pending approval in a referendum in 2022 of the new Constitution. But the constituent convention and Boric's election also meant the end of a Latin American cycle in which various center-left parties governed in a quite traditional way. Some want to see Boric's victory simply as the triumph of the rejection of neoliberalism, but there is much more at stake from a more specific political point of view.

Yes, the Chilean Constitutional Convention and the election of Boric were a triumph of anti-neoliberalism and a promise of a welfare state, in addition to capturing the struggles of the Mapuches and the feminist movement, among others. But the questioning of party oligarchies and what constitutes, in one way or another, their common condominium of power stands out in this equation. In this sense, if the various Latin American lefts commemorate the defeat of the neo-Pinochetist excrescence embodied by Kast, they must realize that it is also about them that the fable is speaking.

Boric belongs to the Frente Ampla, a party originating from the student movement that for decades has organized Chilean youth against the oligarchic political system – oligarchic like all those who are constituted under liberal democracy, much less the Chilean one, however, for example, which the Brazilian, to which the left has adapted and which it has incorporated. Apruebo Dignidade, a coalition in which the Frente Ampla and the Communist Party join together, excluded by the legislation of that party condominium (justice be done, the change in the electoral system began under the presidency of Bachelet, the most advanced president of the Concertación), questioned precisely this closure of the political system, democratic to a certain extent, oligarchic on the other hand. Young candidates, markedly critical of party exclusivism and power alliances, they were even overtaken by the massive demonstrations that, from 2019 onwards, shook Chile and the government of Sebastián Piñera, leading to the convening of the Constituent Convention, with even a list of independent party candidates. Neoliberalism and party dominance were both called into question. However, true to its anti-oligarchic and anti-neoliberal, anti-macho and environmentalist, pluralist and open ideology, the coalition that crystallized in Apruebo Dignidade was able to adapt to the situation, bring together social movements (trade unions, environmental, students, native peoples, feminists, gender diversities, youth groups from the periphery) and reaffirm the commitments and scope of the popular insurgency of recent years. This, to a large extent, had its mirror anticipated in Brazil in 2013 and in several other moments in Latin America. There is no but – yet, let's hope! – institutional innovation that guarantees a deeper and more permanent de-oligarquization of the Chilean political system. It is therefore a huge challenge, both conjunctural and of the radical imagination, focused on the long term, of creating a new civilizational horizon, with an effective government and, at the same time, committed to the democratization of politics and the participation of ordinary citizens. , in addition to the vertical control of the parties, so much to the liking of left-wing organizations.

Meanwhile we follow, in many corners of "our america”, hostages of the great infallible leaders, who make so many mistakes, and of the party-political apparatuses that cling to power by all means. The fable speaks of you: well, our party lefts could heed the warning and seek to transform themselves, taking more seriously, as they once rehearsed, the democratization of democracy.

But this is unlikely to happen from the top down. As it has been known since the ancients and especially since Machiavelli, it is on the people – not on the oligarchies, be it money, politics or supposedly the spirit – that freedom depends. In liberal representative democracy and even in what may follow it, it is precisely in changing the weight of popular participation, of ordinary men and women, including and to a large extent chaotic, in relation to the apparatuses of power that the fate of society is at stake. freedom.

In the early 1970s, in a context very different from the current one, she played with Salvador Allende and his democratic socialism. We lost. On Sunday, with Chile once again, we won it. That we will abandon it, always seeking to expand and deepen true democracy, within the framework of the liberal republic, but thinking beyond it. Who knows, maybe there will finally emerge, at some future moment, a socialism that does justice to its name.

*José Mauricio Domingues He is a professor at the Institute of Social and Political Studies at UERJ. Author, among other books, of A left for the XNUMXst century. Horizons, strategies and identities (Mauad)

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