“The Humanist Action legislator pointed out that “there is a possibility of having an impact on parliamentary votes through the massification of participation and social expression”. He emphasised: “In the social movement there is a source of support and political influence that can be very important for transformations and can change the relative weights” in Parliament. He called for the recent cabinet reshuffle not to remain secondary, and on the complaints of the Liberal Party and the Radical Party, he said: “The party that was most damaged, most affected and is not mentioned, is called Acción Humanista, which had only one sub-secretariat and is now without representation in the government”.
By Hugo Guzmán. Journalist.
A few hours after Friday’s cabinet reshuffle, it seemed that the episodic, the anecdotal, ate up the substance, with the change of seats in the Montt room in La Moneda, the delay in the ceremony, if Marta Maurás was going to be the Chancellor.
The purpose of the cabinet reshuffle was to make the best possible progress in the work of the government, in the project that brought us to La Moneda, to further the realisation of the government’s programme. That is what is relevant. That the President (Gabriel Boric) can count on a group of men and women committed to the programme and to its implementation and, from that point of view, all the anecdotes surrounding the cabinet reshuffle seem to me absolutely secondary, superfluous. The showbiz about how many seats there were and how many were removed, who was greeted first, the time changes, the anecdotes as the most important thing, speaks of putting the look on the secondary and not the primary.
However, there were politically strong episodes. The Liberal Party was hurt, its president had to resign because the only minister they had was taken away from them, the Radical Party complained bitterly that its presence in the government team was low.
I want to clarify the point. The party that was most damaged, most affected, and which is not mentioned, is called Acción Humanista, which had only one sub-secretary and now has no representation in the government at the level of ministers and sub-secretaries.
Are you going to take any action, or are you going to reproach La Moneda?
We do not blame them, I want to be very clear when I say this. But we have expressed our preoccupation to the government and we have told them that this creates a complicated situation within the party where there is obviously frustration, not because of a problem of quotas and positions, but because there is a real desire to contribute, to have an impact, to contribute to the good development of the government. When they say that the Liberal Party was left without a minister, in reality Humanist Action was without a minister and we are still without a minister.
Whether the Liberal Party has been left out of the cabinet or the Radical Party feels diminished, in the final analysis I respect the presidential power to define the team that accompanies him. Of course we all want more participation, we want more places from which to influence and, at this moment, quite frankly, we have raised the need to correct this type of situation and prevent frustration and disaffection from growing in a party that has been loyal and committed to the government.
The one who is very happy is the president of the PPD.
Well, it is a bit striking and one is left with the feeling that sometimes those who bang on the table, or open a parallel electoral list, those who do not accept an important call from the President to have a united list, end up celebrating a greater presence in a cabinet reshuffle.
There is no doubt that there was an imbalance at the level of sub-secretariats, but it is not appropriate to be thinking about rewarding a particular party and particular positions. I want to believe that the President had before him a very complex situation in which he had to seek a great deal of balance between coalitions, within each coalition, even within each party, gender parity, and on that basis, he made the decisions he did, together with looking for suitable people.
President Gabriel Boric insisted a lot on improving management in terms of the government’s programme and objectives. But there are sectors, especially in the opposition, that argue that improving management means lowering the content of the programme.
The same opposition that says this is the same opposition that denies Chilean families and SMEs the resources they need to be able to respond to their needs, the same opposition that has been permanently hindering the government’s management. Clearly this opposition is not only in the traditional right wing, but also in sectors that dress up as centre or even centre-left, where other interests take precedence over the interests of the country and try to dismantle the programme promoted by the Government and President Boric.
Let there be no mistake. We need good management to best promote the government’s programme and the transformations that are being proposed. This is not one thing instead of the other. It is about having the best teams to implement what is pending in the programme.
“To have an impact on parliamentary votes through social participation”.
But the right and the extreme right without exception voted against the idea of legislating the tax reform, i.e., not even discussing it in the legislative work. Something similar is expected with other projects. How to deal with this if the government does not have a majority in Congress, and the right wing is joined by those legislators who call themselves centre or independent.
Other options have to be considered. The correlation of forces in Congress is complex, it is negative for us, it has revealed something that I had suggested, that we are a minority in Congress and we should not fool ourselves. Faced with this, we can either weep and mourn, or we can appeal to a force that seems to me to be fundamental and is not given due importance. I am referring to the social forces, to the social world, to citizen support, to the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who support the Government and President Boric, and want him to do well.
I am convinced that if the government appeals to the citizens, if the government and the President stand alongside the citizens, to encourage the demands that are expressed, stand alongside the people who want and need the reforms, more than one member of parliament can change their vote in favour of the reforms, because they are thinking about the support of those citizens, they are thinking about future elections.
One can look at what President Gustavo Petro did in Colombia, where he himself went out to march with the people, mobilised the citizenry to support the reforms, and that is within the realm of possibility. It would be highly valued by the public to see members of the government, the President, fully involved in the social world. But be careful, we all have a pending task, including myself, we all have to call on the social movement and stand together in defence of the reforms that benefit the people. There is a great possibility of having an impact on parliamentary votes through mass participation and social expression.
There was a march of two million people in Mexico City in favour of the reforms, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador marched with the people?
Exactly, we are progressive governments, we are governments that come from social movements, from struggles and mobilisation in the streets, and that must not be lost. Some of us are older, and we were in the streets fighting for the recovery of democracy, others are younger and were in the streets fighting for social rights, for education, health, decent pensions, and that should never be lost. President Gabriel Boric himself comes from these movements. In the social movement there is a source of support and political influence that can be very important for transformations and can change the relative weight of votes in Congress. The social world can influence votes in Congress.
Reforms or projects do not change only through an institutional conversation of political representatives, through a political conversation alone; they also change through a citizen expression that takes force and goes hand in hand with government action.
Isn’t it time for the pro-government political parties to make a self-criticism of this, to really take it on board? Because they are very involved in meetings in La Moneda, conversations in party headquarters, giving interviews, making arrangements for places in the government, activating the institutional conversation, but there is little call for the social world, they are not seen to be very linked to the social world, motivating and calling on social movements, in fact it was said that on 11 March many people from parties, instead of mobilising to go and support the government in La Moneda, stayed in internal meetings.
This is a phenomenon that is happening worldwide. There is a disconnection of political parties from the social world; it is not just a Chilean phenomenon. There is a hollowing out of institutions in general and of political parties in particular. This tells us that we need to reflect on a new way of doing politics, a new way of social-political organisation. In the case of Chile, this hollowing out is very noticeable; indeed, the evaluation of the parties is very low, participation in party structures is very low, and therefore the parties’ ability to bring people together is also low. This is where we have a challenge, we have a task to face.