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Montevideo, September 25th 2021 - 00:59 UTC

 

 

Chileans vote against traditional politicians and demand substantial reforms

Monday, May 17th 2021 - 09:55 UTC
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Chile's ruling coalition of Conservative President Sebastián Piñera was the biggest loser of the weekend Chile's ruling coalition of Conservative President Sebastián Piñera was the biggest loser of the weekend

None of Chile's traditional political parties has managed to win at least one-third of the seats at stake in this past weekend's elections to appoint a new Constituent Assembly which will have to write up a new constitution to replace the one from 1980 which was inherited from Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship

Turnout was around 37% of the 14.9 million registered voters, well below the 50.9% registered in last October's plebiscite.

In addition to that, Chile's ruling coalition of Conservative President Sebastián Piñera was the biggest loser of the weekend, as a fragmented leftwing opposition took a sizeable majority of the 155 seats.

According to projections, topping the list are 46 independent conventionalists who crawled into the spotlight with the October 18, 2019 uprising against the traditional political class and demanded radical changes. Piñera's Chile Vamos alliance took 38 seats, followed by Apruebo Dignidad (made up of the Broad Front and the Communist Party), with 28 seats; Lista del Apruebo (Socialists, Pepedé, Christian Democrats) 25; Indigenous groups 17 and Humanist Party 1.

What started as a protest in 2019 against a fare hike in the price of a Santiago Metro ticket -and which resembles Colombia's revolt over a tax reform bill that has already been withdrawn from Parliament- has come a long way to bringing to an end the last remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship.

The vote count was still going on Sunday evening for governors, mayors and councillors, the government deepening its defeat with the loss of emblematic mayoralties such as Viña del Mar, where the Deputy and former TV host Andrea Molina was trailing the 29-year-old Macarena Ripamonti of the Broad Front.

Meanwhile, the capital city of Santiago was a cliffhanger where Communist Iraci Hassler challenges the re-election of the experienced mayor Felipe Alessandri.

Contrary to what the polls predicted and with a proportional counting system that favours major political parties over smaller ones, the independents achieved an unprecedented result and will be the leading force at the convention. The independent candidates include feminists, environmentalists and other reform-prone groups.

”The independents obtained a great result but the biggest surprise is the absolute collapse of the right-wing that, despite going on a unified list, they did not achieve their goals,” analyst Julieta Suárez-Cao was quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency EFE.

Also among the losers were the opposition Concertación party, who together with Piñera's alliance has shared the lead in Chilean politics over the recent decades. Thus, neither the right nor the traditional left will have the capacity to control the decisions of the Constituent Convention.

But since the left will be represented at the Convention, although not by its traditional politicians but by the new players in Chile's political scene instead, former Foreign Minister and presidential candidate Heraldo Muñoz, of the social democratic Party for Democracy (PPD) could say “It is a rejection of the right(wing).“

”There is a questioning of the political class, people want changes, they want new illusions, they want proposals,” he added.

 The previous Magna Carta, drawn up during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), is considered as the origin of social inequalities in Chile. The constitutional reform was the way that the Chilean political system found to appease the massive demonstrations that broke out on October 18, 2019, leaving about thirty deaths and millionaire damages in commerce and public furniture. Almost a month after the start of those protests, when several buildings were burning in Santiago, the political forces announced an agreement to call a plebiscite to decide on the change of the Constitution, which was finally held on October 25, 2020.

Categories: Politics, Chile.

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