19 de mayo de 2021

A major triumph for progressive forces in Chile

Por Francisco Salinas

There is joy amongst progressive forces in Chile. Last Sunday, May 16th, provided historic results for independents, the left and representatives of social movements at the mega-election where the Chilean people voted to choose the assembly in charge of writing a new constitution for the country, alongside regional governors, mayors and town councillors.

The right-wing governing coalition suffered a crushing defeat from this plethora of social forces, obtaining only 37 of the 54 elected constituents they needed to be able to overrule a progressive constitution, along with zero governors and losing many key boroughs  – such as Viña del Mar, Ñuñoa, Santiago, Maipú, among others – to left-wing parties like the Communist Party and participants of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio), as well as independents (see details, here). In short, many of the votes for the “apruebo” (approval) in the constitutional referendum translated into votes for representatives of the progressive front.

Not only the right but also most third-way democratic parties and the centre – socialists, Christian Democracy, etc. – saw a huge reduction in their share of power as a result of this election. Voters punished traditional parties in favour of independent candidates such as Giovanna Grandon – famous as “Aunt Pikachu” for her outfit at social protests – and political parties that have pushed more radical reforms to Chile’s neoliberal model.

The results were a huge surprise for many, not only because of the shrinking of more traditional political forces, except for the Communist Party, but because independent candidates are going to be the main protagonists in this constituent moment and the administration of many municipalities.

Additionally, this election made official the representation of indigenous groups in the writing of the new constitution. There were 17 protected seats for these people, many of whom are campaigning for the return of their lands and the recognition of the country as multinational. The person with the most votes in this group was Machi Francisca Linconao, a Mapuche spiritual leader who was unjustly charged and linked to acts of murder and terrorism. Probably, as a symbolic reparation and a symbol of a new Chile, some even think of her as a good candidate to chair the assembly.


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