Chile: The constitutional farce and its first election. Cues and proposals to organize the null vote into a political and social force

This Sunday elections exposed the antidemocratic and reactionary course of the constitutional process. It featured a strong rejection through the null vote that marks its lack of legitimacy. The “Agreement for Chile” provided the basis to update Pinochet’s constitution. Now, the ultra-right ratifies the command of the process with the endorsement of Gabriel Boric’s government, the FA and the PC. Polarization and electoral disaffection describe the current situation. Here are some first cues and proposals to organize the null vote into a political force that takes back the streets and proposes a way out so that the capitalists pay for the crisis.

By Joaquín Araneda and Camilo Parada, Movimiento Anticapitalista.

From the “Agreement for Chile” Pact to the elections

The polls have closed and the results of the first election of the “Agreement for Chile” to change the constitution have been published. This is an electoral milestone that demonstrated its anti-democratic course and far from the interests of the majorities. We have to keep in mind that the proposal for the Magna Carta contains agreed margins based on the 12 points of the “fundamental constitutional bases” that guarantee the continuity of the neoliberal capitalist model. In addition, since the beginning of March, the Commission of Experts (a body appointed by the Congress to write the Constitutional proposal) was established, that is to say, there are no blank pages and it is already drafted. The Constitutional Councilors elected this May 7, except for the ultra-right Republican Party, integrate the parties that signed the Agreement for Chile and are the ones who will review and “contribute” on the text previously stipulated.

5 lists were presented in this election: List A Party of the people, referenced with the right-wing populist Franco Parisi; List B All for Chile, formed by the DC, the PPD and the PR, all from the former Concertación; List C Republican Party, the far-right reference headed by J. A. Kast; List D Unity For Chile formed by parties of the Frente Amplio, the PC, the PS and other minor parties; and List E Safe Chile which included the classic right wing of the UDI, RN and Evopolis.

This vote, although intended to validate the radical reaction of the ruling bloc, is also a measure of strength among the sectors seeking to run in the face of the representativeness crisis. In the ruling party, the existence of two lists is part of the internal dispute to unbalance the internal scheme of the government. Driven by the opening of the fundamental positions of the State to the former Concertación by Boric, these parties generated their own differentiated List that aborted the unitary one with the Frente Amplio, the Communist Party and other minor parties, with the exception of the PS that remained in unity with the conglomerate of Apruebo Dignidad (PC – FA). Regarding the right there is a greater pressure by the media due to their aim in defense of the model of all the actors of the political caste, allowing them a superior space to dispute at electoral level in a scenario where social discontent and an agenda of security and repression that contributes to the political climate in a right-wing discursive dialect. There is also the chance of the Republican Party to run alone and be able to accumulate in the polarization. The PDG with a populist “anti-politics” story tried to ratify the space won in the presidential elections with Parisi. Adding the “Safe Chile” list, there were 3 right-wing options in these elections.

Among the factors agreed in the pact Agreement for Chile was that, unlike the previous constitutional process, no independent lists would be allowed. Same lists that entered with force in the map of the Constitutional Convention in the previous failed attempt to change the Magna Carta. In addition, they agreed to ratify a measure of compulsory vote to try to alleviate the disaffection among the majorities with the electoral processes, manifested by the high level of abstention. A goal that they did not manage to achieve due to the irruption of the null vote. In fact, the figures highlight something that mass media, always aligned with power and the system, omit in their analysis: the crisis of the bourgeois representative electoral model, which was already showing clear signs of exhaustion prior to the outbreak of 2019, many of its demands were focused against the neoliberal regime of the last 30 years, the same one that seeks to legitimize this spurious agreement.

First conclusions: polarization and disaffection in the face of antidemocratic process

With 99.98% of votes counted, the results were as follows:

List PactVotesPercentageElected Board Members *
APEOPLE’S PARTY537,0885.48%0
BALL FOR CHILE877,207 8.95%0
DUNITY FOR CHILE2,800,97528.59%16
 CHILE SEGURO2,063,90721.07%11  
Null and void2.119.506  16,98% 
Blank ballot568.6734.56% 
Servel Data[1]

The Republican Party of the ultra-right-wing Kast obtained 23 of the 50 seats in the Constitutional Council generating itself as the greatest winner by obtaining the veto power over the constitutional norms by exceeding the ⅗ of the quorum, adding another 11 councilors of “Safe Chile” which would amount to 34 councilors of the right, implying the majority and the ability to impose internal discussions that will not need further council if they deem it convenient. This result also shows the retreat of the classic sectors that have occupied that place in politics, far behind the Republican Party were the UDI and RN, which show signs of exhaustion and also express a radicalization of part of their social base.

The Unity For Chile List, of “I Approve Dignity” plus the Socialist Party, is the one who wins the second place where the PS obtains 6 elected, Convergencia Social and Revolución Democrática 4 each and the Communist Party 2. This result is a blow to the government that leaves them even more adrift in a context of brokerage to the right of their policies and speeches, now they will face an institution that will put more pressure on a weakened Boric, without significant influence inside the Constitutional Council.

The derailment came from those who bet on the continuity of the “center” of the former Concertación, which did not achieve any elected candidate, implying a hard blow to the traditional parties that governed the last 30 years. The updating of the discourse of the nineties bonanza did not succeed in getting the message across and, in turn, ended up burying key figures of the State administration who were running again in these elections.

It was the People’s Party that was surprised since, in the context of polarization, it faded in the face of a more radicalized discourse of the Republican Party, while days before the elections the scandal of its nexus with drug trafficking broke out. The PDG ended up without any elected candidate and with its main figure, Franco Parisi, taking the first flight back to the United States.

The expression for the null vote is significant, 2,119,506 votes were cast, that is to say, 16.98%. Added to 2,107,461 (around 12%) who did not vote in a mandatory process, and 568,673 blank votes (4.56%). These data are undoubtedly historical and relevant. Approximately 34% of people decided for a series of reasons not to vote for one of the lists in contention in this process that has been truncated since its genesis, as we have explained in previous articles. The null vote in particular is part of the social polarization and a repercussion against the representatives of the regime that weakens the current constitutional process.

This is why we say that social disaffection prevailed in the face of an anti-democratic process and polarization was expressed at the electoral level that constitutes the bases of what will come in the development of a constituent assembly that seeks to close the cycle opened by the rebellion of October 2019 and promote a new framework of capitalist accumulation in the midst of the economic crisis. The main commentators of power did not wait to blame “ignorance”, “lack of interest” to the social majorities to justify the null vote, while from the neoliberal progressivism that governs, they will use, as they did with the triumph of the rejection of the previous process, the result to strive to fulfill the agenda of the right wing, thus justifying its neoliberal drift.

The statements of President Gabriel Boric after the election day manifested the logic he defends and gave course to the Agreement for Chile when they made a pact with the right wing: “The previous process, and we must say it, failed because we did not know how to listen to each other among those who thought differently (…) A Constitution born from a democratic process will be able to have social legitimacy and give long term stability to our country, which is what our people need”, thus inviting the Republican Party to talk and reiterating its support to the anti-popular bases of the current constitutional process, on her part, the government spokeswoman and PC militant, Camila Vallejos, ratified this pro-government position “If we talk about triumph, Chile has given full demonstration, not only in our country, but also in the world, that the differences and conflicts can be solved with democracy, with dialogues and agreements”, endorsing the process that will update Pinochet’s constitution at the hands of the ultra-right.

On the winning side they will enter a crossroads that, like the ultra-right references worldwide, they have faced by not being able to carry out all their reactionary plan, since, in this case, the Republican Party is preparing to govern in the next period and needs a new legal framework to close the fracture that still roils after the rebellion. This means that they need a new constitution without polarizing to the extreme and without scaring their partners of that right wing that calls itself “democratic” but has its origins in the same civil-military dictatorship of Pinochet, who 50 years ago were responsible for the coup d’état and subsequent tyranny, with systematic violations of human rights. Therefore, this triumph of the ultra-right is given in a context of broad social discontent that contributed with the null vote and they need the politics of consensus and pacts with the whole regime to overcome this situation. In addition, there is a brutal crisis that hits directly with the high cost of living, inflation, low salaries and the precariousness of the basic conditions of social reproduction, this scenario has been taken advantage of by the right and the ultra-right to postulate themselves in the discontent as an electoral counterpoint to the government, although with a plan to sustain more repression and more adjustment, a fact that if they extreme it will end up reactivating social response. The scenario is still open in a context of polarization, disaffection with the representatives of the regime and a wide social space that manifested itself by the null vote to reject the constitutional farce.

Let us organize the null vote into a political force that will retake the streets and propose a way out so that the capitalists pay for the crisis.

The enormous expression for the null vote shook the opinion of the main editorials of the national bourgeoisie, it is a fact that cannot be hidden, since added to the blank votes, there are around 2,500,000 people who chose not to support any candidate of the constitutional farce. A worrying fact for the purposes of the Agreement for Chile, which seeks to try to legitimize a constitution that updates the fundamental pillars of the regime and which, on the other hand, received a great warning from those who went to the polls. The Frente Amplio and the Communist Party had been preparing the stage by accusing the organizations that promoted the null vote with the false idea that we are collaborating with the right wing and thus being able to blackmail for the lesser evil. Holding the anti-capitalist left and the people responsible for the protest vote against the policies of neo-liberal continuity headed by their representatives.

That demonstration for the null vote is unfortunately disorganized by the previous vacuum caused by the denial of the main trade union and social organizations that correctly denounced the illegitimate process, but did not set up a broad and united campaign to coordinate the social discontent that would decisively reject at the ballot boxes and in the streets the constitutional farce, oscillating between supporting the government’s by omission. It is a conclusion yet to be drawn, to overcome the hesitations and to strengthen in organizing all the discontent in a social and political force that proposes a way out so that the capitalists pay for the crisis, that is to say, rejecting and coordinating actions against the Constitutional Council and simultaneously promoting an agenda to confront the crisis: For the immediate increase of wages to the real cost of living; paralysis of the rise in prices; reduction of the working day; for a tax on the great fortunes to finance education, health and housing; for a plan of ecological reconversion of the productive model; an end to militarization and for the disbanding of the pacos; for a true free, sovereign, democratic and plurinational constituent assembly. These and other measures must be put forward in a united campaign to organize the null vote, recovering the streets and stopping the government and the pact that opened the way to reaction. From our organization we will contribute our energies, as we have been doing so, adding to this perspective, but we do not limit ourselves, we want more, because lukewarm measures only pave the way to the right, that is why we build a revolutionary tool to radically transform society. This is the goal of Movimiento Anticapitalista in Chile and the International Socialist League around the world. Join us, let’s build an anti-capitalist, ecosocialist and internationalist alternative to take heaven by storm.