Chile: elections, second wave and debates of the left

By Camilo Parada Ortiz and Maura Fajardo Gálvez, Movimiento Anticapitalista

The electoral calendar in Chile moves forward in the midst of a debate to postpone the mega-elections thanks to the second wave of Covid-19. It’s dynamic is marked by the general methods. Its dynamic is marked by the general elements of the stage opened by the rebellion of October 2019, a deep crisis of the Piñera government and the 30-year regime. This, which was ratified in the overwhelming triumph of the Approve in the plebiscite of October 25, 2020, sets the general tone of the moment.

In this context, the focus is set on the presidential elections of November 2021, and the constituent elections will be a stick to measure what is to come and therefore the internal disputes within the regime are reviving over the possibility of postponing the elections of constituents, mayors and councilmen scheduled for next April 10 and 11. The different components of the right and the “center-left” are moving their pieces on the electoral chessboard. They are trying to improve their relative positioning within each bloc, but also to recompose the regime through the reorganization of two blocs that polarize in the center and contain any more radical expression. On the right, Chile Vamos incorporated the Republican Party of Jose Antonio Kast, the local “Bolsonaro”. Meanwhile, in the “center-left”, candidacies are multiplying and a front from the Christian Democracy to the Communist Party is being discussed.

In this sense, Daniel Jadue, of the PC, who today leads the polls, said: “We have not vetoed any party and we have not vetoed any candidate and we are available to hold primaries with everyone, understanding that today we have a transforming will that must be clearly expressed, therefore, those who want to be part of such a project simply have to express it clearly and we will be open to participate”. Gabriel Boric of the Frente Amplio expressed himself in the same sense: “I have all the willingness to meet with whoever is necessary to be able to generate this unity that is needed so that the right wing does not continue governing”.

Defeating the right wing or rebuilding the Concertación?

Since his official launching as candidate a few days ago, Boric has become one of the main spokesmen of the “unity against the right” policy. At the end of the voting on the mining royalty, for example, he summarized it in his twitter account as follows: “We have just passed in the first stage the project that establishes the Mining Royalty. Majority of UDI, RN and Evopoli against. The great majority of the opposition in favor. Do we have differences? Yes, we do. But there are bigger and more important things for Chile in which we can advance together”. He thus confirms the evolution of a political force that in its origins claimed to question the entire regime and at the time of its maximum crisis, from October 2019 until today, has become one of its main supporters (Pacto), and bets on its regeneration.

The limits of this policy are clear. Under the banner of defeating the right wing, a coalition ends up being built with the same people who governed together with the right wing in the last three decades and who were the architects of the agreed exit from the dictatorship. Rather than a “government of change” as advocated by the Frente Amplio, the result will be an administration within the framework of the regime. This has already been demonstrated by the government of the New Majority. The very debate on the mining royalty is an example of the orientation they are proposing. A 3% tax disguised as the epic of copper recovery, in other words, small reforms that do not substantially alter the political and economic model. This path, moreover, leads to a growing adaptation to the political canons of the 30-year regime. It was not by chance that, when questioned about the condition of Mauricio Norambuena, Jadue and Boric coincided with the PS candidate, Paula Narváez, in denying him the status of political prisoner.

Re-establishing a project such as the Concertación, even in a version made up by the left, does not imply advances in the rights of the social majorities, and neither is it effective to defeat the right wing. On the contrary, on the two occasions that the right wing won the elections, it was precisely because the “center-left” was worn out. It was 20 years of Concertación governments that reinforced and expanded the architecture of the neoliberal model. Faced with the rebellion of the “penguins” in 2006, they responded with repression, deepening even more the disenchantment. Thus they opened the doors to Piñera in 2010. After the right wing was comfortably defeated in the 2013 elections, and with control of both houses of Congress, the Nueva Mayoría  government failed to fulfill all its promises and led to Piñera’s return to government.

The October 2019 rebellion put the right in retreat, and opened the possibility of dealing it a historic defeat. However, these parties rushed to their aid in the Pact. Today, by proposing to rescue the battered regime, they are once again playing into the hands of the right.

What project do we need?

The stage opened by the October 2019 rebellion brings historic opportunities and challenges for those of us fighting for a radical social transformation. There are objective conditions to create a new political reference of the left, a third space against the right and the attempts to re-found the Concertación/Nueva Mayoría. An alternative that would give organizational form to the October program against all the forces of the Pact and the Regime.

There are those who argue that this task involves forming an anti-neoliberal front unifying the left of the regime, the FA and the PC, together with the diverse expressions of the radical and revolutionary left. However, both forces have shown clear signs of their limits. The FA promoted the Pact and the PC demobilized to let it run. During the pandemic they voted for the “Employment Protection” law which unloaded the crisis on the working class. And now they seek to rebuild a Concertación 3.0. Nothing progressive will come out of this path.

From the Anticapitalist Movement, we aim to create an alternative of the radical and revolutionary left. That is why before the constituent process we called “to form a great political front of the anti-capitalist left under a classist program that would present itself in the elections, but also promote mobilization. An independent voice that overcomes reformism and prepares the united road for those of us who have never governed to govern”[1]. Unfortunately, this did not materialize because there were sectors that privileged their self-reference or the search for agreements with reformist sectors.

The presidential election represents a new opportunity to build this political front of the anti-capitalist left. From the Anticapitalist Movement we will continue betting in this sense, while building our anticapitalist, feminist, socialist and revolutionary current, in all the struggles and in the electoral fight promoting the campaign of Maura Fajardo Gálvez in the 12th District and Camilo Parada Ortiz in the 10th District for the Constituent, an impulse that is accompanied together with the internationalist militancy of the International Socialist League (ISL) by being present with a brigade to promote these ideas in the service of transforming everything. We invite you to join this fight.