primaries in chile

Image: David Vives


Chile has the first left-wing presidential candidate since Salvador Allende with a real chance of being elected

“No, without July there will be no November” is the slogan that runs on social media among followers of Daniel Jadue, from the Communist Party (PC) and current mayor of the commune of Recoleta, in Santiago, who should run in the July 18 primaries. against the young deputy Gabriel Boric, from the Frente Ampla (FA) who will be the presidential candidate of the Apruebo Dignidad coalition. A month full of politics, which coincides with the installation from the 4th of the Constituent Convention (CC), the largest and densest political space since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship, which has the prospect of becoming an instance with the power to give a reversal of the regime of the last thirty years, or perhaps 50.

If we put these processes into perspective, and even though both are very relevant, CC is undoubtedly the instance with the greatest projection in time and in all fields. It is the drafting of a new constitution by a convention that has the face of a constituent assembly. Its composition, voted in an election last May, not only has a large majority of constituents in favor of regime change, but also has two large groups representing social organizations and native peoples.

This observation was shared with joy by the journalist and founder of the magazine Final point, Manuel Cabieses. In an emotional article published at the end of June in different electronic media, he saluted CC. “You are part of a Constituent Assembly, the first in our history, endowed with all the powers to write a new political Constitution. In the end, it will be the people, in a referendum, who will approve or reject the proposal. So, the first decision that is expected of you is whether you will assume the fullness of your powers, rejecting all submission to an order that needs to be changed in the bud. We trust you.”

The presidential elections, which will be held in November, in addition to electing a president with a term of just four years, also have unprecedented characteristics for the last fifty years. Daniel Jadue leads in the polls and is very likely to win the primary this month. He would become the first left-wing presidential candidate since Salvador Allende with a real chance of being elected.

This is what all the opinion polls show, his followers in around a thousand support centers for Jadue and among his many detractors. Just two weeks ago, the current mayor of Recoleta published his government program, and after a television debate with Gabriel Boric, a wave of criticism emerged that flooded the hegemonic means of communication and spilled over onto social networks. His proposal to deconcentrate the media from the hands of large economic groups, certainly right-wing and ultra-right, aroused corporate fears that were expressed in angry editorials and opinion articles, later amplified by digital hatred.

Daniel Jadue is of Palestinian descent and since his youth he has been linked to organizations linked to the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority. This broad political trajectory, added to his militancy since the early 90s in the Communist Party, led powerful sectors on the right of the Chilean Jewish community and the classic Chilean oligarchy to denounce him as an anti-Semite.

Boric and Jadue share a very close program that would be classified as reformist in older parlance. Tax increases for those who have more, support for the most vulnerable, an end to the private pension system, labor and union reform, more resources for health and public education, gender equality, and other proposals. Contrary to what Salvador Allende set in motion in 1970, neither Jadue nor Boric touch on the ownership of the means of production, the financial sector or the ownership of natural resources. Even with this moderation, Jadue is and will be increasingly the target of the rights.

The primaries do not end with this leftist coalition. The right in government put four candidates in the race, but only the mayor of the commune of Las Condes, Joaquín Lavín, a former Pinochetista, former minister and eternal aspirant to La Moneda, would have any chance of being elected. But his task will be made more difficult by the fact that this government and President Sebastián Piñera are experiencing unprecedented levels of unpopularity, an economic crisis and high levels of unemployment. Lavin and the other three suitors represent the order that made the country explode in 2019.

And then there is the ex Concertación, the renewed neoliberal left that has governed Chile several times over the last 30 years. If it will be difficult for the right in government today to compete, it will be even worse for this discredited center-left. Paula Narváez, the candidate anointed by former president Michelle Bachelet, was not even mentioned in the polls, while Christian democracy hastily launches its letter, the president of the Senate and former minister in Bachelet's first government, Yasna Provoste.

On June 13, governors were elected in several Chilean regions. In Santiago, two opposition candidates competed. Political scientist and feminist Karina Oliva, from Frente Amplio, and Claudio Orrego, a former minister and former mayor, Christian Democrat, Catholic and attached to traditions. In a tight race, Orrego overcame the young feminist thanks to the strong vote in areas where the right and ultra-right traditionally win.

The fact is not isolated because the right and the old Concertación can stand up and support Yasna Provoste on her way to La Moneda. Without July there will be no November.

* Paul Walder is a Chilean journalist and writer, graduated from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​director of Latin American Center for Strategic Analysis (CLAE).

Translation: Carlos Alberto Pavam for the Portal Major Card.

Originally published in South and South.



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