Chile: Ending with the “30 years” regime is possible

Movimiento Anticapitalista

By Joaquín Araneda and Martín Miranda 

Analyzing an election, fundamentally one as complex as the one we have just experienced in Chile, raises a great number of possible approaches and perspectives. In this first assessment, we will analyze the main political conclusions that emerged from the election, its conjunctural framework and the possible medium term developments. Gladly, we can do this from the point of view of being part of the process, contributing an opinion that seeks to be a tool for the political organization needed to transform everything.

The Right at its worst

The elections for the Constitutional Convention clearly showed the repudiation of the right, fundamentally of the governing coalition. The blow could have been worse had it not been for the unity that they managed to sustain in the midst of their retreat, a unity tensed by internal disputes and the need to find new leaderships. According to the results reported by Servel, the right will have 37 out of a total of 155 seats at the Constitutional Convention, having received 20% of the vote nationally. Within the coalition, RN and the UDI came out strengthened, with 15 and 17 seats respectively, and the Partido Republicano as the worst positioned with no elected representatives, they also incorporated polarizing Marinovic in the “independent” quota.

The governing coalition did not reach a third of the seats, therefore it does not have the power of veto to be able to play a role of containment and pressure in the CC and this generates great concern in the establishment, which has already been expressed in the stock market fall.

But this is only one aspect of the beating, because when it comes to regional governments, the scenario is even worse. The ruling coalition did not win any of the 16 regional governments disputed throughout the country and although there are several open fights that will be settled in runoff elections, the numbers of the rejection of Chile Vamos[1] are resounding.

The scene is similar at the level of mayors and local councils. As Piñera himself clearly summarized hours after the election, the people gave them a clear message in the form of an electoral landslide, a message that was built in the first place in the streets from October 2019 onwards.

The blow shook the “30 years” regime

The former Concertacion, the other fundamental pillar of the “30 years” regime, also received the electoral blow with two levels of intensity. The first and most extensive wave hit them in the election for the Constitutional Convention where the rupture has a more complete expression. The Lista del Apruebo[2] received just over 800,000 votes at the national level, represting 14% of the vote and obtaining 25 seats, of which 15 belong to the Socialist Party. The second wave, more mediated by the real possibilities of existence of alternative candidate lists, hit them in the election of governors and mayors. These numbers allow them to attempt an explanation, but the essence of the result indicates that they are the coalition that, apart from the ruling right, fared worse overall. They face the additional difficulty that they will play the role, as they have in the past, of trying to sustain the current institutionality and model.

An additional important fact is that within this space, at the level of governorships and mayoralties, the most “conservative” sectors have gained influence, showing an abandonment of their “more left-wing” social base which shifted to more radical options, increasing tensions and pressure to the left and right.

In addition to this, the role of the “independent” candidates that competed in the lists of these coalitions is also key, obtaining good results in general and thus contributing to make the fall of the parties that for years dominated chilean politics, guaranteeing the model that crashed against the popular tide in October 2019, less visible.

PC/FA had an election that invigorated them in the dispute within the opposition

It is evident that the overall result of the elections is a blow on the right that favors the left. Within this framework, the Communist Party and the Frente Amplio scored a victory in this area within their general strategy of leading the opposition on the terms of the regime. Not only because they achieved important political victories, such as winning the municipalities of Santiago, Ñuñoa and Viña del Mar and the regional government of the province of Valparaíso. Jadue[3] in particular was re-elected with more than 60% of the vote in Recoleta and in the Constituent Convention they prevailed over the former Concertación bloc, obtaining almost 19% of the vote at the national level and 28 seats with just over a million votes.

In the next few days we will see if these numbers are enough to impose an agreement on the entire bourgeois opposition to contest the presidential elections or if the unity they preach so much dies from internal pressure and the crossfire of interests.

It is evident that for an important sector of the bourgeoisie the idea of the Communist Party taking the reins is not at all pleasant thought, apart from the fact that the CP is very far from being a truly revolutionary party. The Frente Amplio, which passed the test with the Pact for Peace presents a more interesting and less strident profile.

These numbers cannot hide the fact that being the space furthest to the left within the regime, with an apparatus, resources and structure, a very important percentage of the mobilized people identify them as part of the old regime, as is reflected by the independent “phenomenon”. Even in key districts such as D10 they appealed to independent figures such as Atria, who obtained a significant vote if compared to the list as a whole.

The meager vote in D12 of Barbara Figueroa, leader of the CUT, deserves a separate line, precisely reflecting that the union bureaucracy generates little enthusiasm as an alternative.

Breakthrough of the independent phenomenon

If the blow to the right and the former Concertación are one the most prominent expressions of the election, the emergence of a large number of independents voted to the Convention is undoubtedly the other. Adding to this point is the important vote for women candidates driven by the powerful feminist wave, which meant that the “gender correction” for quotas was applied in favor of men, a true contradiction.

It is clear that one cannot speak of an “independent bloc” from a programmatic and political point of view, but 65 seats will be held in the Convention by people who ran from outside of the traditional parties.

Beyond the result of winning seats or not, the lists linked to the assemblies and social movements obtained an important number of votes, being prominent within them the youth, the movements in defense of the environment, the feminist movement and the sectors of rank and file unionism.

With nearly 900 thousand votes throughout the country and 22 elected constituents, the Lista del Pueblo (People’s List) collected most of that momentum. With a diffuse program and clear references of activists that emerged from the rebellion they will play a key role in the CC, in what will be, without a doubt, a huge test, unexpected just a few months ago.

It is evident that the fundamental conclusion that this breakthrough poses as a possibility is the defeat of the Constitutional Convention of the “Pact for Peace”, placing as the first fundamental task that of setting up a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly, with the power to change everything. The popular vote is indicative of this and those leaderships that are position themselves from the scope of “what is possible” can only recognize that the “surprise” expressed in the election has moved the political spectrum to the left. Rather than looking for certain “minimum common grounds” as declared by the most voted candidate of the Lista del Pueblo, the way forward is to ensure that the old parties harshly punished in the elections do not impose their conditions.

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This does not mean at all a confidence in the future of the CC. At present, the electoral expression is more substantial than the leaderships in which it finds expression and that is clear and has been clear from October 18, 2019 onwards. But without a doubt, far from the testimonial position, it becomes clear that the anti-capitalist left must fight to influence an open political phenomenon and with the emergence of multiple sectors that won seats with more radical positions from the point of view of the interests of the majorities. How can we do this? First by trying to understand the magnitude of the phenomenon.

Second, insisting on the need for self-organization independent from the parties of the “30 years”, democratic and throughout the country to promote mobilization so that the demands that have already been expressed on the streets and in the electoral result are reflected in the new constitution and are not taken out of the “recipe” by the professionals of the parliamentary kitchen. Along this path, we must work tirelessly for the organization of a new political reference capable of structuring that force and giving it continuity and revolutionary orientation.

The balance sheet of the Movimiento Anticapitalista 

Our grouping, the Movimiento Anticapitalista, has only been in existence for a few years. During the rebellion of October we participated and managed to build a dynamic group that has since sought to develop boldly in the whirlwind of events, counting on the support of the International Socialist League. Despite the deep restrictions resulting from the pandemic, we launched ourselves to promote the presentation of two independent candidates: Camilo Parada Ortiz in District 10 and Maura Fajardo Gálvez in District 12. Previously, we had promoted the “Command for a Free and Sovereign Constituent Assembly”, seeking the possibility of more general agreements that would raise the possibility of a confluence. If these agreements did not develop successfully, it was not because of our refusal, but because of the restrictive conditions of the political regime on the one hand and because of the false hegemony attempts of some sectors on the other.

Therefore, without abandoning the fight to advance in further unity, we decided to register our candidacies by doing a great militant activity that allowed us to gather sponsorships first and to carry out a clearly anti-capitalist, feminist, dissident, eco-socialist campaign with a radical program, which expressed our strategic orientation towards building a new revolutionary political alternative. It is surprising to read lies on this point in some balance sheets, obviously without any demonstration, such as the one published by the comrades of the PTR (International Trotskyist Fraction) in La Izquierda Diario of Argentina, where they accuse us of “adaptation” amalgamating our position with the criticism they have of the People’s List. The strange thing is that after minimizing our participation, they leave out the fact that in both districts the votes obtained by our candidacies far exceeded the complete lists of their party and in particular in District 10 our comrade Camilo Parada obtained about 9 thousand votes compared to 1550 for Dauno Tótoro, main referent of the PTR, with a very similar trend in District 12.

The revolutionary left, which is small in our country, had different tactics towards the process. María Rivera of MIT was elected integrating the People’s List in District 5 and other expressions of the radical left participated in different ways. We believe that these different tactics are valid, the important thing to intervene in the process that is coming is not to falsify reality in discussions and to debate from the point of view of trying to influence without sectarianism or opportunism, putting forward a revolutionary horizon for the new Chile that has emerged.

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That was the challenge we assumed and it is evident that, with inequalities, we were able to connect with a sector that bet, with their vote and participation, on our rupture candidacies, which rose outside of any pact. Despite deep inequalities in resources, our candidacies, with 8,226 votes (2.21%) in district 12 and 8,773 votes (2.07%) in district 10, oustripped a large part of the candidates of the traditional parties and even some who were elected, and the most important thing is that this support was expressed even knowing that without a list it was more than difficult to obtain a seat.

New debates are being raised for the left, the social, feminist, socio-environmental movements and the independents, that we must address to act in the face of the new situation in our country. To ignore that we are facing a new phenomenon, to try to hide it or to accuse those who intervened by reading that perspective, as a method does not help to draw conclusions and is part of what is old. We are willing to continue strengthening the ties and necessary unity of the different sectors in the struggle to advance with a single fist on all fronts to recover everything that has been taken from us.

We come out of this process ready and willing to be an active part of the new moment and to take an organizational leap, we prepare ourselves for this and that is our fundamental balance sheet.

[1] The governing coalition.

[2] Name of the list for the CC of the parties of the former Concertación.

[3] Mayor of Recoleta and presidential candidate of the Communist Party.