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IW 05

Latin America

ELECTIONS IN CHILE

The Concertation is disintegrating

 

Socialist Michelle Bachelet won the first round of the presidential elections in Chile, with 46 percent of the votes. The Concertacion got, moreover, 52 percent of the votes in the parliamentary elections, most of them belonging to the Socialist Party. The Christian Democrats (another party belonging to the Concertacion) only got six seats. Within the political limits of the Chilean process it can be said that the electorate was leaning to the left.

Political crisis

The electoral results outline the start of a political crisis, because it puts into question the Constitutional binomial electoral system that was established by Pinochet- and religiously maintained since those days by the “democrats”-that prevents any parliamentary representation apart from the Right-Concertacion alternative.

The electoral results show the exhaustion of this system, since Christian Democracy has collapsed and the Socialist Party won most of the deputies of the Concertacion. There is a current in the CD that wants freedom to make fronts with the right, as a result of which the Socialist Party eventually would be obliged to rebuild together with the CP a kind of Unidad Popular (Popular Unity). This tendency explains why candidate Bachelet has been virtually left to her own devices by the hierarchies of the government to face the challenge of the second round in the elections.

So, in the country where everybody says “nothing ever happens”, the elections have laid bare the start of a crisis of the political regime.

Social Crisis

The electoral campaign was dominated, partly, by the manifestations of the social crisis. The rise in misery, the concentration of the wealthy and the failure of the welfare system were the main issues in debate. Chile has the highest indexes of social differentiation, of hours worked, and in the consumption of psychotropic drugs in Latin America.

Out of the seven million participating in the private welfare system, barely half are contributing (the rest are unemployed or non-union workers). Those that are retired earn a misery. An increasing mass of the pensioners in the private system fail to earn the minimum established by the State as a level of misery. The state has committed itself to paying each pensioner of the private system a subsidy equivalent to the difference between the amount received through the private pension fund and the minimum pension according to law. Since the number of those obliged to apply for that difference is systematically growing, an increasing fraction of the public finances must be allocated to the financing of the pensions… the private pensions. Several predictions foresee that, in a few years, the deficit of the welfare system could be explosive. The “secret” of the “Chilean miracle” however, lies in this pillaging of the workers, because it has offered the capitalists a mass of free capital close to one hundred billion dollars.

Whatever the illusions that some popular groups have in Bachelet, an eventual government of hers will be an agency of imperialism, like its predecessors, even though it will have to deal with completely new conditions of social and political crisis.



Carola and Ramon