Chileans Voted for an End to Neoliberalism

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      Elections on May 15 and 16 for local and regional offices and for members of the Constitutional Convention have completely changed the national political landscape in Chile. The Right, gathered around president Sebastián Piñera, was dealt a major blow, and the ruling centrist coalition, Concertación, collapsed spectacularly. The Left and social movements swept the contest, winning a series of vital political offices and, perhaps most importantly, majority representation in the assembly responsible for drafting Chile’s new constitution.

      The two-day mega election — deciding mayorships, municipal councils, regional governorships, and the composition of the Convention — is a milestone, the impact of which will resonate for decades to come. By winning substantial representation, the Left made good on the promise of radical change announced by the popular revolt that broke out on October 18, 2019. Just as importantly, a clear signal was sent that Chile’s reigning transitional regime — brokered at the end of the dictatorship between the center-left, the Right, and the military — is on life support.

      Left-wing parties Frente Amplio and the Chilean Communist Party made major inroads into local and regional governments, and won numerous seats at the Constitutional Convention. The non-party left — feminist and environmental movements, in particular, as well as representatives from First Nations and Indigenous peoples — also won important political offices, and will be sending a number of representatives to the Convention. On balance, almost overnight, a left-wing groundswell has achieved major footing in institutional politics, an arena from which it had been almost entirely excluded for decades.

      The other key area to watch in weeks to come is the alliance formed between the two largest left-wing parties: the Communist Party and the Frente Amplio. Both parties scored historic victories by picking up mayorships and governorships in the most recent elections, and together they form the largest left bloc at the Convention. Since its foundation in 2017, Frente Amplio has spurred an important revival of progressive, youth-led politics in Chile. However, it has increasingly acquiesced to the reigning model of transition-era politics, placing a higher priority on governability and negotiations when, some would argue, a more radical approach is needed. (Frente Amplio, for example, signed Piñera’s Agreement for Social Peace.)

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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