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IW 03

Chile

The politics of the Chilean Communist Party

To any outside observer, the politics of the Chilean Communist Party seem to run against the grain of those followed by the other CP's in Latin America and around the world, since instead of forming fronts with the center-left it has formed a left front, the Juntos Podemos (Poder Democrático y Social) (Together We Can — Democratic and Social Power), which in the municipal elections of 2003 obtained 10% of the votes. This, which seems to be the exception that proves the rule, is the same rule applied under different conditions. First of all, it is the center-left itself, the Concertación (Agreement), that has excluded the CP from its alliances, in spite of the latter's critical support, in the second round of the Lagos-Lavin race of '99, for example. On the other hand, the rest of the left emerged from the dictatorship totally atomized and without clear political orientation, allowing for the almost complete domination of the CP. Fronts such as País (the Country), IU (United Left), and Mida, which were born on the occasion of each electoral event, only to be forgotten afterwards. In that sense, what is new with Podemos is the political moment in which it is formed, one of wear and tear for Concertación, gradual struggles such as that of the students and the opposition to Bush's visit in November, 2004, that is, a slow process of leftward movement among the masses.

In this election year, in which a president is to be chosen, and all deputies will be replaced together with half the senators, it seemed that we were going to see a great lesson in democracy, since Podemos (Together We Can) was holding primary elections and grassroots assemblies with five pre-candidates for president representing different sectors, even the CP... but, sorry, the devil be blamed. Scared off perhaps by so much democracy, the pre-candidate for the Communist Party, Tomás Moulián, resigned and the CP gave their support to Thomas Hirsch, pre-candidate for the Partido Humanista (Humanist Party), a low-profile figure who in the presidential elections of 1999 received less than 1% of the votes. This provoked the withdrawal of the other two majority components of the bloc, the Surda (“the left”)and Fuerza Social (Social Force), who criticized Hirsch for being conservative and a right-winger, as well as the resignation of the rest of the pre-candidates. Although the president of the CP, Teillier, attempted to make light of this, the Juntos Podemos Mas was now reduced to a virtual CP-HP pact. The CP's policy of supporting a low profile candidate and of deflating Podemos, can only be understood as a “little help” for the candidate of the Concertación, Michelle Bachellet, in her race with Piñera and Lavin, candidates of the right, in exchange for a reform in the binomial system [1], allowing them to obtain a parliamentary seat.

If the truth be told, the CP's policies as a whole orbit the reform of the binomial system, hidden inside the struggle against “social and political exclusion”, as seen by the march in Valparaíso “For the Democratization of Chile” and the proclamation of the CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores — United Workers trade union federation) along the same lines. Without any need to search elsewhere, Guillermo Teillier's speech proclaiming the candidacy of Hirsch, says: “It is indispensable to put an end to the political and social exclusion suffered by millions of Chileans, due to the persistence of the binomial electoral system...” [2]. Already in March of this year Teillier met with the president of the lower house, Gabriel Ascencio, of Concertación, in order to present him with “a proposal seeking proportional, and not exclusive, distribution, giving the left and labor groups an opportunity to be represented, increasing the number of deputies and senators, and allowing Chileans living abroad to vote” [3] . Precisely, the constitutional reform approved on July 15, 2005, even though it does not end the binomial system, removes it from the Constitution, making it necessary for only 50% of the votes in Congress to reform it, as against the 66% previously required.

The Podemos Program

In the Asamblea Nacional por la Democracia y la Soberanía Nacionales (National Assembly for National Democracy and Sovereignty), in which numerous groups belonging to Juntos Podemos (Izquierda Cristiana participated (Christian Left), Coordinadora Mirista (Mir Coordinating Committee), Andes, Partido Refundación Socialista (Party of Socialist Refoundation), Generación Ochenta (Generation of the eighties), Movimiento Oveja Negra (Black Sheep Movement), Partido Radical de Chile (Chilean Radical Party), Partido Humanista (Humanist Party), Partido Comunista Acción Proletaria (Proletarian Action Communist Party), MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionario - Revolutionary Left Movement), Colectivos Popularios (Popular Collectives), Oceanía, Asambleas Populares (Popular Assemblies), Bloque por el Socialismo (Blocs for Socialism), in which the MPS-LIT-CI participates, Izquierda Socialista, etc.), the “Programmatic Platform for a just, sovereign and democratic Chile with solidarity”. As a program, the platform's axis is the need to combat the “neo-liberal model” and the Ftaa, with statements on “building from diversity” and of course the struggle against social and political exclusion. That is, a program to “domesticate” wild capitalism. Where the program's adaptation to the regime is made the clearest is on the point referring to copper. In short, the politics of Podemos form part of the world-wide tendency towards the co-optation of the left by the capitalist State, which intensifies with the upsurge in the struggle of the masses. Against this we counterpose the forming of a revolutionary party based on true class independence.

[1] In Chile a system called binomial is in force according to which, for Deputies as well as for Senators, the posts are taken by the first and second, which makes it virtually impossible for the left to obtain parliamentary seats.

[2] Revista El Siglo, 10 May 05.

[3] El Mercurio, 16 Jul 05.

By Carola-Carola