Chile: presidential primaries and prospects

By Camilo Parada Ortiz Martín Miranda, Movimiento Anticapitalista – ISL Chile

The results of the presidential primaries in Chile present multiple elements of analysis that can undoubtedly be deepened in the following days. Far from the interested headlines of the media that celebrate the result as a strengthening of the political center and the defeat of “the extremes” we propose to frame this result in a more complex and dynamic situation that has not yet written its last words.

Some data: this primary election has been the most convoking in the brief history of primary elections in Chile, 3,143,006 people voted, surpassing the 2013 primaries un which 3,007,687 voted. The votes were distributed percentage-wise in 56.5% for the Apruebo Dignidad pact, corresponding to 1,750,889 votes and 43.3% for Chile Vamos, corresponding to 1,343,892 votes. Within this context, the triumphant candidate of the parliamentary left of the Apruebo Dignity pact, Gabriel Boric, exceeds one million votes, as did Michelle Bachelet in the 2013 primaries. On the side of the right, we can say that the winning candidate, Sebastián Sichel, concentrated 659,862 votes, less than the second place of the Apruebo Dignidad primaries, the Communist Party candidate, Daniel Jadue, who got 692,862 votes.

The “markets” celebrate while Dignity Square is empty

It is evident that the result of the primaries gives a respite to the agitated electoral and political panorama of the last months. The less strident, less “extreme” options emerge as winners and this is particularly interesting for the political regime in the case of the primary of Apruebo Dignidad, Boric, the “young man who climbs the tree” is the same one who in the worst moments also knew how to climb the table of the right to save the regime of 30 years. An architect of moderation and dialogue, that is to say, a guarantor that little and nothing will change. Gabriel Boric represents the Frente Amplio project that has been able to overcome the internal crises, positioning itself in that path, towards moderation and the defense of institutionality, with winks towards the former Concertación, allowing the voting of repressive laws in full revolt, what is it that leads to Boric’s triumph? There are several hypotheses and they overlap or combine: bad performance of Jadue in the debates, a fringe of the PC in a very internal key and from an aesthetics of defeat and suffering that failed to convey a message of changes emanating from the streets, right-wing voters and from the Concertacionist environment who voted for the FA candidate.

This does not mean that Jadue has been an extremist, beyond the presentation given to him by the media, his program implied few radical transformations, his trajectory at the head of the mayor’s office of Recoleta and that of his party as support of the regime of the 30 years, leave few doubts in this regard. But reality is more than abstract definitions and the fears of the regime lay in the combination of a dynamic political situation with strong anti-regime expressions and emergence of new popular references, with the emergence of a communist candidate, polarized with a battered right wing could be bad news.

None of this happened, Boric was undoubtedly imposed with the participation of the social base of the political center intervening strongly in the absence of its own alternative due to the crisis of the space and the open question as to whether the former Concertación goes all out to dispute or folds to Boric’s candidacy; as said by those involved, sopaipillas in between, the programmatic differences are minor.

The photo of the election shows high participation. Compared to other primaries, it is the one with the highest voting rate in recent history. Over 3 million votes between both conglomerates, of which 1.6 million votes went to Apruebo Dignidad and the rest to Chile Vamos. Boric prevails in the internal election and at the same time harvests one million votes, emerging as the most voted in the election as a whole, quite far from Sichel, winner in the right-wing contest.

This picture, which gives some calm to the markets, does not necessarily reflect the situation of a country with a constitutional Convention in progress and a political life that is much more dynamic than that of a primary, this scenario is completed with a picture of the Plaza de la Dignidad empty and without celebrations.

Chile Vamos increases its concerns

Sichel imposed himself in the internal right wing, beating Lavín and Desbordes and leaving Briones far behind. His candidacy shows a liberal and friendly face to hide his place as a representative of the most concentrated businessmen. Banker, Piñera’s official and disguised as an independent outsider, will have the challenge of capturing the traditional right-wing electorate tempted by Kast and the center with an abundance of options. Not to mention that the primary generated even more tensions within the conglomerate and it is not clear that all sectors comply with the premise of accompanying the winner. In this sense, the process within this conglomerate has more to do with internal renewal than with the real dispute for the government in the next elections, however, in politics it is not possible to rule out any scenario.

The perspective: to set up an alternative from the people

The results put the focus on the one hand on neo-reformism and on the other hand on a renewed center right, that is to say on the maintenance of policies of agreements, pacts, and gradual changes that do not scare the holy sacrosanct market.

The communist devil, as the media painted him, was rather seen as a moderate and part of the regime of the 30 years by broad sectors of the working people and the youth who were not at all enthusiastic about his proposal, especially with his actions during the health and economic crisis where they voted initiatives to take care of business interests to the detriment of the working majorities with the Law of Employment Protection, rather they have their eyes set on the possibility that the new popular and independent political phenomena that emerged in the constituent fight can tone up and move forward.

This perspective gains strength at this juncture, to set up a political reference that reflects this process of transformation in a deeper way, this perspective we promoted in our open letter after the elections to the constituent assembly, explaining that beyond the election itself, what was opening up was the possibility of building a new transforming force in the country, joining forces from the anti-capitalist left, the social movements and of course the People’s List. The scenario, a few days before the inscriptions for the November general elections, implies the need for a broad, unitary and urgent call to all these sectors to converge in a common space that allows us not to squander the force that has been expressed in the streets for months and to offer an alternative outside the 30-year regime with a program of rupture with it and the deep transformations we need.

The living forces of the revolt today more than ever can raise an independent alternative on the left and is doing so in a huge space that is in dispute, and in which the CP is reaching out to the FA and insisting on presenting itself as the neo-reformist reference. We can advance with full independence of class, of the 30 years, of possibilism and its professional politicians that give continuity to this model, humanizing an ecocidal capitalism that does not endure reforms and let us open together the different anti-capitalist expressions that exist in our country, but also to class feminism, to revolutionary dissidences, social movements that oppose the kitchen, the territories that fight against the plundering and looting of common goods.

From the Anticapitalist Movement we bet everything on this perspective, we call to abandon the sectarian calculations of sectors of the left and the doubts and call for a great meeting to advance in a unitary way. Let us not delegate, let us not surrender the strength that the people have expressed in recent history. It is possible to transform everything, let us get down to work to achieve it.