The winds of Chile

Dora Longo Bahia, Black Bloc, 2015 Silkscreen on fiber cement 50 x 79 cm
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By JOANA SALÉM VASCONCELOS*

Brief analysis of the elections for the Constitutional Convention.

Since October 2019, Chile has been experiencing a major social eruption and a crisis of political hegemony. The Chilean elites watch, stunned, as the popular struggle for rights, gratuity, well-being and dignity overflows. Despite the obstacles imposed by the Social Peace Agreement of November 15, 2019, which defined a conservative quorum of 2/3 for constitutional change; despite the restrictive regulations of the Constituent Convention, framed within the framework of neoliberal geopolitics; and of course, despite the pandemic, popular organizations have continued their autonomous political construction from October 2019 until today, preparing for the confrontation against the greatest authoritarian rubble of the dictatorship: the 1980 Constitution.

Democratic governments from 1990 to 2021 bowed to the so-called “Chilean model” and made it even more sophisticated, amplifying social unrest. But the model of the 1980 Constitution proved to be eroded and exhausted. Framed in a society without rights since the 1973 coup, Chileans were thrown into the helplessness of neoliberal society, market individualism and the war of all against all.

The Subsidiary State, devised by Jaime Guzmán and the Chicago Boys during the dictatorship, commodified all spheres of life and imposed the discretion of generalized privatization on Chilean society in the name of the freedom of large corporations. The private plundering of land, water, mineral and agricultural resources, the perverse capitalization of pensions, the commodification of education and health, were promoting an irreversible process of erosion of the social fabric.

The publicity campaign for democracy, which said “No” to Pinochet in 1988, had as its slogan “la alegría ya viene”, but the preservation of the dictatorship's constitutional arrangement prevented democracy from delivering on its promise. “Pinochetism without Pinochet” ruled the last 30 years of democracy in the country.

But now the “Chilean model” is more fragile than ever. In the May 15th and 16th elections, the Chileans indicated that the Constituent Convention will be a democratic event of great proportions, with the strength to re-found relations between the State and society on popular and truly democratic bases.

Os election results they don't look like anything I've ever seen. Elected independent MPs make up 32% of the 155 members of the Convention. Indigenous deputies are 11%. The three major party blocks add up to 57%. Independents had small budgets and almost no TV time, but won a third of the vote, showing the erosion of the conventional party system. Among the indigenous candidates, right-wingers were defeated and indigenous left-wingers won.

Until last week, many friends told me that the dispersion of candidacies could erode the left's electoral strength. It was a reflection of the decentralization of the 2019 revolt, a positive element that could, in electoral mathematics, become negative. But the opposite occurred: the strength of the independents unbalanced the result in favor of the left.

Among the party blocks, the right had 24% (Vamos por Chile – RN/UDI); the center got 16% (Lista de Apruebo – ex Concertación); and the left with 18% of deputies (Apruebo Dignidad – PC/FA).

Among independents, the leftist Lista del Pueblo had 15%. The center-left Lista Nueva Constitución had 7%. There are still 8% of independents elected without a list, with candidates with a local profile whose ideological position still needs to be mapped.

In summary, we have:
Right (Let's go for Chile): 24%
Center-Left (Apruebo + Nueva Constitución-ind): 23%
Left (Apruebo Dignidad + Lista del Pueblo-ind): 34%
Indigenous people (none from right): 11%
Independents without list: 8%

The right was placed in the corner of the ring. Jaime Guzmán's constitutional architecture is about to be dismantled.

* Joana Salem Vasconcelos she holds a PhD in history from USP. Author of Agrarian history of the Cuban revolution: dilemmas of socialism in the periphery (Avenue).

Originally published in Portal Contrapoder.

 

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