Following shock election results in Chile, the country’s elite need to make a decision: allow substantial reform to Pinochet’s constitution or face the prospect of increased social unrest and polarisation.
Shock election result in Chile – the left-wing Frente Amplio presidential candidate came third with 20 per cent of the vote, just behind the ‘officialist’ (governing coalition) candidate who got 22 per cent. This, even though the number of voters taking part was less than 50 per cent of the possible total. It’s unclear as yet whether the youth vote had a significant impact. As usual split votes hurt the left – if you count the total number of leftish votes they’d be in first place. As it is, rightwing billionaire Sebastian Piñera will face off in the second round against the officialist candidate, Guiller. The big question is: will the Frente Amplio call on its voters to support him? Will their voters do it even if they do?
The biggest losers in the election are the Christian Democrats, who are down to a historic low. In the parliamentary elections the left, taken broadly, has won 63 seats, including eight communists (up from six) – but the right has taken about 86. So no prospect of serious change to the system. Nevertheless, the Frente Amplio is only a year old, and it now has 21 members of parliament. It’s a pretty incredible result.
As a result, I think we can expect the language of Chilean politics to change. The polarisation evident across the world has hit Chile. The vote is an indication of how fed up Chileans are getting with the post-Pinochet system. This vote will give people more confidence that they can shake things up. If Guiller wins, it will be thanks to a growing and self-confident left, and he will need to take that into account. If Pinera wins, he will face a growing, militant and more confident left.
The Chilean elite need to make a decision – allow substantial reform to Pinochet’s constitution or face the prospect of increased social unrest and polarisation.