The thesis of the acceleration of historical time, from the point of intersection between objective and subjective conditions, is the only one that was confirmed in the resplendent results of the elections of 15 and 16 May.

By Francisco Herreros

Indeed, if any Chilean, on 9 October 2019, when Piñera declared that “Chile is a true oasis in a convulsed Latin America”, had been predicted the results of 15-16 May 2021, he would undoubtedly have thought that the prophet was crazy.

It so happened that 18 October 2019 arrived, a moment when objective and subjective conditions converged, matured in a thousand battles, under the spontaneous slogan “it’s not thirty pesos, it’s thirty years”, and Chile woke up.

To the stupefaction of the hegemonic bloc, the party of order, and its two wings, the right wing and a sector of the Concertación; social opportunism and doomsayers of all stripes; this was overwhelmingly demonstrated, to the point that unobjectionable conditions were also confirmed for the fulfilment of another capitular slogan of 18/O: “neoliberalism was born in Chile, and in Chile it will die”.

Even within the institutional scheme designed by Jaime Guzmán, a decisive correlation of force was obtained to begin the dismantling of Pinochet’s constitution, to the extent that the 37 right-wing constituents, barely 14.5%, will find it an ordeal to defend the neoliberal discourse in the face of an openly hostile majority.

At least, there is enough correlation to transform the Constitutional Convention into a Constituent Assembly, insofar as it has the key to establish the rules of procedure, adopt decisions in a sovereign manner, free from the two-thirds majority, and reduce to nothing the vestiges of Pinochet’s institutionality, approved by the 15N agreement, such as “respecting the democratic and republican regime, court rulings and international treaties ratified by Chile”.

This is the main conclusion of the barrage that came to the right and the conservative sector of the Concertación, which in no way should be interpreted as a goal, but merely as a frontier from which to undertake the construction of the other Chile, now possible.

The second is that the way for the broad avenues to finally open up, where a government elected by broad majorities transforms the development model from business to labour, from the market to social law, and from the subsidiary state to the state as guarantor of the common good, has a clear advantage in the decisive stretch.

In short, the possibility of reconnecting with the National Development Project with a Socialist Perspective, which was carried forward by the historical left during Hobsbawm’s short century, interrupted by a coup on 11 September 1973. In other words, the threshold of the great avenues.

Historically, every defeat of the right triggers the conspiracy to kick the board, and this will probably be no exception.

However, the amplitude of the correlation of forces makes it highly improbable, and gives time, space and political legitimacy for the design of self-defence measures.

In short, the 15-16M elections were to Piñera, the right and the neoliberal model what Waterloo was to Napoleon.

Impact on the political scene

The victory in the mother of the four elections was achieved against the odds, the government’s apathy, the bias of the media system, and the worst possible conditions, such as the pandemic, the difficulty of deploying the work on the ground, the usual asymmetry in the availability of economic resources, inexplicable changes in polling stations, which forced people to travel to places where there was no collective mobilisation, and the suspicion of part of the electorate about the security of the ballot boxes under military custody.

It was also achieved with the lowest voter turnout of the last four major elections.

Out of an electoral roll of 14,900,189 eligible voters, 6,184,594 people voted, or 41.5%; or conversely, 8,715,595 eligible voters abstained, or 58.4%; whereas the plebiscite of October 2020 called for 7,569,082 voters, or 58.4%. 569,082 voters, 50.07%; the first round of the 2017 presidential election, 6,703,327 voters, 44.9%, and the second round, 7,032,878 voters, 47.1%.

Despite this, or rather because of it, the impact was devastating.

In the third step of the consequences, but no less significant, was the collapse of the hegemonic political forces of recent decades and the emergence of social movements, more linked to causes than to political projects, and others arising from the social outburst of October 2019.

Although it will not be easy, if the unity of the strengthened Apruebo Dignidad pact and this heterogeneous group of social organisations, proudly autonomous, with different cultures and forms of leadership, and sceptical of traditional politics, which they disbelieve, can be achieved, the transition to the post-neoliberal era will be ever closer.

Fourthly, the failure of the polls and media disinformation, which predicted a third of the right, the triumph of Unidad Constituyente over Apruebo Dignidad, and the irrelevance of the independents, is evident. Clearly, they again failed to see it coming, and if they did, they hid it efficiently.

The democratisation of communication, including the redistribution of radio-electric space, media financing that guarantees pluralism, and an end to the current media oligopoly, which lies shamelessly and induces misleading collective representations, based on the simultaneous concurrence of political marketing, behavioural psychology and venal journalism, is a necessary condition for the construction of the other possible Chile.

Next come the effects of the debacle on the presidential candidacies of the hardest-hit parties and coalitions.

On the right, Evelyn Matthei abdicated, although few outside her and her close entourage believed she had a chance, leaving Joaquín Lavín with the task of making it to the second round, a Herculean goal in the current circumstances. The old joke of the epitaph comes to mind: “here lies the future President of the Republic”.

At the end of the day, the right wing registered a primary with four candidates, in that order: the mayor of Las Condes, Joaquín Lavín (UDI); the former finance minister, Ignacio Briones (Evópoli); the former social development minister, Sebastián Sichel (independent); and the former defence minister, Mario Desbordes (RN).

The presidential primary is set for 18 July.

In Unidad Constituyente, the disaster of the DC and the good performance of the PS were on the verge of dynamiting their political alliance, in force since 1983.

Influenced, no doubt, by the gale blowing from the left, the party president, Senator Alvaro Elizalde, communicated by telephone to Carmen Frei, interim president of the party, the decision to register the candidacy of Paula Narváez in a binding primary with the Communist Party and the Frente Amplio, after Heraldo Muñoz (PPD), Pablo Vidal, of Nuevo Trato, and Ximena Rincón and Yasna Provoste, of the DC, declined in succession; The party was left in disarray, without a primary and out in the open, in dramatic isolation.

This scenario, the best for the solid majority required to change the development paradigm, went from the possible to the probable, and was on the point of generating a diametrically different political picture in a few hours, a qualitative change not uncommon in phases of accelerating historical time; which, in the frenzy of the night of 19 May, the legal deadline for the registration of primaries, finally did not come to fruition.

There was no need for prescience or a doctorate in political science to predict that the winner of the primary would be the next president of Chile.

The Socialist candidate, Paula Narváez, attributed it to the Frente Amplio’s veto of the PPD and the Liberal Party, which is very strange considering that both Heraldo Muñoz and Pablo Vidal had declined their candidacies, and therefore, did not stand as candidates.

The Socialist candidate, Paula Narváez, attributed it to the Frente Amplio’s veto of the PPD and the Liberal Party, which is very strange considering that both Heraldo Muñoz and Pablo Vidal had declined their candidacies, and therefore had no business in any primary.

The communist candidate, Daniel Jadue, clarified what had happened:

“We honestly and transparently invited the PS grassroots, its candidates and leadership because we recognised in them a trajectory and history that endorses them to some extent, and because they had communicated to us that they were developing a historic turn, but they cannot incorporate those who a week ago said they could not go anywhere with us.”

He added:

“There has been no veto from us, it has come from them, and it seems to us opportunistic and contrary to the ethics that the people demand today, that because they lived through an unprecedented electoral disaster they have changed their minds and today want to come and ask for quotas and parliamentary agreements with the calculator, so as not to have another electoral disaster in November.”

In any case, at the appointed time, the Pacto Apruebo Dignidad registered its primary between the re-elected mayor of Recoleta, Daniel Jadue, of the Communist Party, the deputy Gabriel Boric, representative of the Frente Amplio and the deputy Jaime Mulet, president of the Federación Regionalista Verde Social.

At the ninth hour, Unidad Constituyente was left with a mess: they ended up without candidates, without primaries, without answers, with their “trust” broken and the feeling of having made all the possible mistakes, and a few more.

As far as is known, the president of the PS tried to pick up the pieces with the DC, but the latter responded through the national secretary that “there is no disposition to improvise”.

The pathetic image of Carlos Maldonado, president of the Radical Party, sitting alone in a room at the Servel, waiting fruitlessly for whoever wanted to make a pact, sums up the situation admirably.

Nor is there any point in playing the hara kiri. The Concertacionismo has until 23 August to re-establish trust and see how it will be prepared for the elections on 21 November.

Pamela Jiles is the candidate of the polls, and that is how she did. The Humanist Party won no constituents, no governors, only 2 mayors and 24 councillors, which added to the defeat of Pablo Maltés, fourth, with 10.6% of the vote, left the surly “grandmother” virtually out of contention in the presidential race. Another heavy defeat for the polls, which, after all, will say what the owners of the pollsters want, but do not turn out to vote.

The last consequence that interests this preliminary analysis is the right’s competition in the hunt for the lame duck, which they hold responsible for the handling of the social outbreak and the pandemic, as well as for its insensitivity and indolence in the face of the suffering of the population.

The government, weakened by successive defeats and Piñera’s disastrous management, has lost all capacity for manoeuvre and will have to limit itself to mere administration, to the extent that Ex Ante, psalmodised: “If the President does not change his style, he will have to change his style”.

“If the President does not change his style of governing, such as his reluctance to empower his ministers and to assume a role more of head of state than head of government, he will hardly be able to navigate with a minimum of success in the turbulent waters ahead”.

Among the right’s demands was a cabinet reshuffle, but Piñera apparently realised that he no longer had any more pieces willing to sacrifice themselves for his government, so that at the Cabinet Council on Monday 17, he limited himself to confirming the ministers, but not without asking them to go to the field, to “listen” to the people.

Too little, too late.

However, as this report went to press, the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle was being anticipated by journalists assigned to La Moneda.

The milk is not cooked

Undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of the day was the distance the right wing was left from the veto power of the obstructive third in the election of the Constitutional Convention.

The Chile Vamos list, which accounted for 63% of funding through legal contributions, won 1,173,198 votes, 20.56%; it ran 184 candidates and won 37 seats, 14.5%: 17 from the UDI, 15 from Renovación Nacional, 5 from Evopoli and 1 from the Republican Party.

Except for the Socialist Party, Unidad Constituyente or Lista del Apruebo, the former Concertación, was the other big loser.

It obtained 824,812 votes, 14.46%, ran 182 candidates and won 25 convention members: 15 from the PS, 3 from the Partido Por la Democracia, 3 from the Partido Liberal, 2 from the Democracia Cristiana, 1 from the Partido Radical and 1 from the PRO. Ciudadanos, Andrés Velasco’s NGO, with 0.38% of the votes, was out of the running.

The Apruebo Dignidad list removed them 1,069,225 votes, 18.74%, carried 171 candidates, and obtained 28: 9 from Revolución Democrática, 7 from the Communist Party, 5 from the Federación Regionalista Verde Social, 5 from Convergencia Social, 1 from Comunes and 1 from Igualdad.

In other words, the alliance of the CP and the FA was in an unbeatable position to play the role of the articulating axis of the majority for change.

The emergence of the People’s List, with 24 seats, was undoubtedly one of the great novelties of the day. Born under the wing of the protests in Dignity Square, it became the fourth force in the Constituent Convention. It declares itself distant from the political parties, including the PC and the Frente Amplio, with which it was unwilling to associate, but with which it shares ideological affinities.

“Our closeness to left-wing ideas is a natural condition,” says Patricio Bustamante, the List’s electoral officer. Among its figures is Giovanna Grandón, a school transport worker known as Aunt Pikachu, an active participant in the Plaza Dignidad protests. They operate on the basis of the assembly system and have a political committee.

It is not so clear to add to the forces of change the 11 seats of Non-Neutral Independents, moderate centre-left, open to compromise and fearful of instability.

Strictly speaking, according to the article by journalist Lucía Sepúlveda, Unmasking the “Non-Neutral Independents”, some of their candidates have clear business ties, or have been promoters of extractivism, as in the case of Benito Baranda and Rodrigo Jordán.

Journalist Patricia Politzer was press director of TVN, director of the communication and culture secretariat of the Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency and president of the National Television Council during the Concertación governments.

Miguel Angel Botto, a commercial engineer from the Catholic University, with a master’s degree in educational management, is manager of Servicios Profesionales Botto SpA, which gives lectures on business entrepreneurship and business consultancy in the educational and real estate sectors.

Thirteen other independent lists shared 13 seats, most of them available for change.

Thus the scenario, the right wing lost veto power, but not necessarily the possibility of reaching it with part of Unidad Constituyente, and moderate independents. In fact, it is 15 votes away from the fence, or 6, if the votes of the PPD, the DC, the Liberal Party and the Radical Party are mechanically added.

Consequently, the position of the 15 members of the Socialist Party and the 11 of the Non-Neutral Independents acquires a surprising capacity for arbitration.

The conservative bloc knew that it would have to co-opt at least six of them to reach the obstructing third.

The socialists, challenged in their identity roots, will have to think carefully about whether to opt for the Chile that Allende began to build, or to join the retardationist forces, which, at this stage, cannot even offer more of the same.

Because of history, ideological embers and calculation, or all of the above, it is likely that the socialists will join the bloc for change, in which case the defeat of Pinochet’s constitution would be assured, which in no way means that the milk is cooked, or that the fruit will fall of its own weight.

To achieve this, there is no other way than the broad political and social unity of the forces for change.

The governor does not want to see his gentle demeanour down the gully

The unprecedented election of regional governors was the one that most resembled the old electoral scenario.

6,464,320 people voted, a 43.3 per cent turnout.

Only three were elected in the first round.

Rodrigo Mundaca of the Frente Amplio was the big winner of the day. With 43.7% of the vote, he comfortably won the governorship of the region of Valparaíso; a very significant fact, because the seasoned social leader of the struggle for water remains as regional authority of communes such as Cabildo, Petorca and La Ligua, ravaged by a prolonged drought, due to the monoculture of avocado.

The other two directly elected were Andrea Macías, from the Socialist Party, with 48.7% of the vote in Aysen, and Jorge Flies, an independent from the Constituent Unity list, with 42.1% of the vote in Magallanes.

Eleven Unidad Constituyente candidates, nine from Chile Vamos, three independents and two from the Frente Amplio went to the second round on 13 June.

By blocs, Unidad Constituyente, removed them 1,569,307 votes, 25.87%, won one governorship and placed 11 candidates in the second round.

Chile vamos obtained 1,177,209 votes, 19.41 per cent, and nine candidates went to the second round.

The Frente Amplio won 1,001,241 votes, 16.51 per cent, elected one governor and put two candidates in the second round.

The Communist Party did not enter into a pact; it obtained 209,811 votes, 3.46%, ran 6 candidates, and did not elect a governor.

Eleven independent candidacies obtained 359,630 votes, 5.93%, no governorship and no run-off candidates.

The stellar clash in the second round will be in the metropolitan region, between Claudio Orrego (DC), of Unidad Constituyente, with 25.51%, and Karina Oliva (Comunes) of Frente Amplio, with 23.37%, far ahead of the surprising Natalie Joignant, of the Green Ecologist Party, with 15%, Catalina Parot, (Evopoli) Chile Vamos, with 14.92% and Pablo Maltés, of the Humanist Party, with 10.67%,

The right’s disaster in mayoral elections

The defeat of the right wing in the mayoral elections was as resounding and only slightly less strategic than in the constituent elections, because it will be the territorial power that will flank the next government, and because since 1990, through this territorial power, the right wing has deployed its clientelist policy.

The scale of the debacle can be measured by the fact that it lost 77 out of 145 mayoralties, more than half, including Santiago, Maipú, Ñuñoa, Estación Central, Viña del Mar, Rancagua, San Bernardo, Temuco, Padre las Casas and Valdivia. It lost important or well-known figures such as Felipe Alessandri, Andrea Molina, Cathy Barriga and Omar Sabat.

It obtained 1,649,577 votes, 26.02%, ran 319 candidates and elected 88.

By party, the UDI ran 96 candidates and elected in 32 municipalities, a drop of 21 mayorships compared to those it won in 2016.

Renovación Nacional ran 105 candidates and elected 32, 15 fewer than the 47 in 2016.

The Concertación ran on two lists, and obtained fewer votes. However, it seems to have been a wise strategy, since its losses were far less than those of the right.

Unidad por el Apruebo won 836,001 votes, 13.19%; it ran 174 candidates and elected 68: 22 from the Socialist Party, 17 from the Party for Democracy, 11 from the Radical Party and 18 independents.

Next came Unidos por la Dignidad, with 677,607 votes, 10.69%, 137 candidates and 60 elected: 46 from the Christian Democrats, 12 independents and 2 from the Progressive Party.

Further behind was the Frente Amplio, with 494,437 votes, 7.80%, 61 candidates and 12 elected: 6 from Revolución Democrática, 3 independents, 2 from Convergencia Democrática and 1 from the Partido Liberal.

The FA was among the big winners in the election of mayors: it increased from 2 to 12 communes, including important ones such as Maipú, Viña del Mar and Valdivia.

Chile Digno y Soberano obtained 419,840 votes, 6.62%, carried 81 candidates and elected 9: 6 from the Communist Party, 2 independents and 1 from the Federación Regionalista Verde Social.

Among the six PC mayoralties, one of the biggest upsets of the day was the victory of Iraci Hassler, with 38.6% of the vote, over Felipe Alessandri, from the right, a politician with pretensions and pretensions, who came second, with 35.2%.

The resounding re-election of Daniel Jadue, in Recoleta, with 64.08%, leaves him with first choice in any type of primary, and installs him with a high possibility of going to the second round. “The result shows that the sectors that seek real transformations have achieved triumphs,” said Jadue.

Although it lost La Ligua and Diego de Almagro, and failed to win back Pedro Aguirre Cerda, the Communist Party doubled its mayoralties to six, by virtue of three new ones: Iraci Hassler, in Santiago; Javiera Reyes, 23.95% in Lo Espejo and Aldo Retamal, with 55.02%, in Los Lagos, and the re-election of Bernardo Leyton, with 62.65%, in Canela.

Dignidad Ahora, with 214,035 votes, 3.38%, 44 candidates and 3 elected: 2 from the Humanist Party and 1 from Igualdad.

A total of 566 independent candidates obtained 1,811,838 votes, 28.58%, and elected 105 mayors. They removed more votes and more mayors than all the party lists, another clear manifestation of the breakdown of the traditional political system, both in its binominal version and in the three-thirds format,

The councillors’ pantograph

The election of councillors is analysed with particular interest by specialists, because it anticipates with the precision of a pantograph the trend of the next parliamentary election, especially of deputies, where the political correlation of the moment is best expressed.

However, for reasons that are not relevant to detail, like the election of governors, it has more continuity than change with respect to the traditional electoral scenario, where territorial deployment, clientelist politics and the asymmetry of resources prevail.

In addition, the need to balance the forces has led to a tendency to run by party rather than by list or pact, and those who have done so have not done badly, quite the contrary. .

As a result, in strict priority, first place went to Unidad por el Apruebo, with 925,166 votes, 15.24%, which brought 1,850 candidates and elected 476 councillors: 274 from the PS and independents, and 202 from the PPD and independents.

In second place was National Renovation and independents, with 781,640 votes, 12.88%, which brought 1,774 candidates and elected 376, 70 less than it had.

Third place went to Chile Digno Verde y Soberano, with 759,728 votes, 12.52%, 1,226 candidates and 206 elected: 157 from the PC, almost doubling the 80 from 2016, and 49 from the FRVS.

The Communist Party’s 560,362 votes, 9.23%, and 157 councillors, 76 more than in 2016, represent its best electoral performance, since 1990 to date.

Next came Unidos por la Dignidad, DC, PRO, Ciudadanos and independents, with 699,899 votes, 11.53%, 1,812 candidates and 361 elected.

Fifth – who would have thought it – came the UDI, with 600,698 votes, 9.9%, and 298 councillors, of the 391 it had … .

Next came the Frente Amplio, with 554,484 votes, 9.14%, 819 candidates and 132 elected councillors: 51 from Convergencia Social, 43 from Revolución Democrática, 34 from Comunes and 4 from the Partido Liberal.

Then came the Radical Party, with 406,330 votes, 6.70%, 1,316 candidates and 174 elected.

Eighth came Dignity Now with 310,542 votes. 5.12%, 583 candidates and 53 elected: 28 from the Humanist Party and 25 from Equality.

It beat Evopoli, which won 293,634 votes, 4.84%, 986 candidates and 61 elected.

Rounding out the top ten was the Ecologists and independents list, with 252,317 votes, 4.16%, 298 candidates and 47 elected.

Unlike in the other three elections, the independents were close to irrelevance. The Independent Citizens list removed them 7,629 votes, 0.13%, carried 34 candidates and elected 1, while various independent candidacies outside the pact, totalled 91,702 votes, 1.51%, 78 candidacies and 16 councillors.

Extreme irrelevance

Given the fact that the elections of councillors and deputies are those that reflect the closest thing to the real political correlation, the low electoral performance of the extreme wings of the Chilean political scene is surprising, which, by contrast, exhibit a visible presence, whether on the street, on the left, or in the social networks, on the right.

José Antonio Kast’s Republican Party obtained 188,127 votes, 3.10%, ran 486 candidates and won just 11 councillors. In constituents, it won one seat, for Teresa Marinovic, even though she was disguised as an independent, in the National Renewal quota. In governors, it won just 3.4%, and in mayors, 0.93%. In short, it did not overcome the marginality barrier.

On the extreme left, Unión Patriótica, basically the Communist Party Acción Proletaria, PC (AP), of orthodox or Stalinist matrix, obtained 29,197 votes, 0.48%, ran 106 candidates and elected 1.

In constituents it removed them 41,979 votes, 0.74%, and carried 52 candidates. In governors, it won 62,168 votes, 1.02%, and fielded 3 candidates. In mayors, it won 17,898 votes, 0.28%, and fielded 20 candidates. It did not elect any.

The Trotskyist Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (Revolutionary Workers’ Party) had an even poorer showing. In councillors it won 13,356 votes, 0.22%, ran 16 candidates and elected 1. In constituents it won 52,368 votes, 0.92%, and put forward 52 candidates. In mayors, it did not field any candidates.

The register of its performance makes sense insofar as its habitual criticisms of institutional politics do not disqualify its participation in it.

By way of a provisional conclusion, the objective of definitively cancelling the 1980 constitution and simultaneously moving into the post-neoliberal historical phase entered the horizon of possibilities.

Consequently, the main issue at the new juncture is which development model will prevail in the post-neoliberal era. The two main tendencies, as they have been for a long time, oscillate between the regulation of capitalism and the restoration of the socialist perspective.

Even in the scenario that opened up on 15/16/M, nothing is certain in Chile.

The final outcome will depend, although it is not clear today, on the cultural battle between competitive individualism and integrative cooperation.

Source: Red Digital