What’s at Stake in Chile’s Presidential Elections?

Chilean Social Movements support Boric and the New Constitution

Jose Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric. Photos: yahoo.com

By Andres Kogan Valderrama*

HAVANA TIMES – Just days before we learn who the new president of Chile will be, support for both candidates from different sectors in the country can be clearly seen, given the importance of the election on December 19th.

In the case of Jose Antonio Kast, every right-wing political party quickly stood by the Republican Party candidate (UDI, RN, EVOPOLI), while on Gabriel Boric’s side, every left-wing party has joined the Apruebo Dignidad candidate with unlimited support (PS, PPD, DC).

While this support doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the fact these discredited political parties seek to settle back into a future government. Meanwhile organized civil society, on the other hand, have backed Boric over Kast with great support from many social movements.

This situation that can be seen with organizations giving their explicit support to Gabriel Boric, such as Movement for Water and Territories (MAT), Movement in Defense of Water, Land and Environmental Protection (MODATIMA), the 8M Feminist Coordinating Committee, Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH), the Equals Foundation,  the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (MOVILH), Migrants as Messengers (MAM), No + AFP Coordinating Committee, the Coordinating Committee in Defense of Our Mental Health, etc.

An appeal from these organizations to vote for Boric, which is not only tied to the Apruebo Dignidad candidate’s beliefs or his government program, where he respects to build a feminist, eco-friendly, diverse, inclusive and worthy government that every Cuban deserves, but also in safeguarding a constitutional process that is underway, which will be under heavy fire if Jose Antonio Kast wins at the polls.  

This is why, the threat to democracy in Chile that Kast represents, is much greater than what happened under Donald Trump in the US or Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, as it’s not only a matter of a conservative government being in power for four years; but it is rather a historic process, that will lead to great frustration, anger, fear, discrimination and exclusion if it is reversed.

In the face of this, the danger of Kast’s openly racist, classist, homophobic, Pinochet-style discourse that denies the climate crisis, becomes a lot more dangerous within Chile’s constitutional context, as it goes hand-in-hand with the insane conspiracy theory that the metro was burnt and the social uprising in 2019, were organized and financed by the Venezuelan government, the Cuban government, the Sao Paulo Forum, the Puebla Group, and executed by Chile’s Communist Party.

Thus, it isn’t a coincidence that Chile’s far-tight is constantly talking about the uprising and the criminal outbreak, posing a binary presidential spectrum between freedom (allegedly represented by Kast, and Communism allegedly represented by Boric), as if what happened in 2019 can be reduced to some flames, lootings and drug trafficking.

“Nor is it by chance that Jose Antonio Kast and his followers, have named Gabriel Boric as the new Communist Party candidate, as if he were just a mere puppet for them, exaggerating its role in the campaign and social uprising, with the only objective of stirring fear amongst the population. 

Meaning you don’t have to be naive with this discourse, as you don’t have to be a Leftist to know that the mass protests that took place in 2019 were anti-political parties and peaceful on the whole, and denying this is to live in another country, never having seen a single protest in your life, or simply lying for political gain, to void the legitimate demands of these social movements.  

Meanwhile, the conservative theory that what happened in 2019 was orchestrated from above, has no basis in reality. In fact, this is why no left-wing group has been able to co-opt Chile’s constitutional process, unlike what happened in the constitutional processes in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, where political leaders ended up taking over the process in an authoritarian way.

On the contrary, Chile’s constitutional process has played out from below and has been cross-cutting, going beyond the caricatures of the most steadfast conservatives, who attribute the process to a political maneuver coming from the allegedly radical and anti-patriotic Left, which they say is behind everything and hiding in the shadows to destroy the country.

It’s worth pointing out that social movements in Chile have been very clear in terms of their political autonomy, just like the Constitutional Convention, moving away from old party structures that refused for decades to write a new constitution by democratic means.

Jose Antonio Kast has made clear his intention to derail the new Constitution if he becomes president. Facing this prospect, many organizations, just like the majority of constituent assembly members, know that only Gabriel Boric’s candidacy will give safeguards to continue with this process, without any government intervention.

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*Andres Kogan Valderrama, sociologist and professional in the Ñuñoa municipality, Chile.

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One thought on “What’s at Stake in Chile’s Presidential Elections?

  • Happy for the people of Chile and their freedom of Choice. Hope the whole American continent one day would have that freedom

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