Chile is currently holding its most important elections of this century, in a context of social and political crisis and a constituent process considered the culmination of the transition initiated in 1990, with the end of Pinochet’s military dictatorship.
Galloping inflation, an undercapitalized pension system and inequality accentuated by the covid-19 pandemic are the main challenges facing the next President of Chile, a country plunged into the most serious crisis of the last three decades, which has ceased to be the ” oasis” which was before October 2019, when the most serious popular protests since the dictatorship began.
The seven candidates who will compete to succeed, in the presidential palace in La Moneda, the outgoing head of state, Sebastián Piñera, represent a very broad political spectrum: Chile’s right-wing Pode Mais (Sebastián Sichel), formerly known as the Alliance for Chile; the center, with the New Social Pact (Yasna Provoste), a new name for the traditional Concertation; the left with the electoral coalition Apruebo Dignidad (Gabriel Boric), which includes the Frente Amplio and Chile Digno parties and a series of civil society organizations and movements; the Progressive Party (Marco Enríquez-Ominami), the far right with the Christian Social Front electoral coalition, formed by the Republican Party and the Christian Conservative Party (José Antonio Kast); the far-left Patriotic Union (Eduardo Artés); and independent Franco Parisi, who is not in the country.
In today’s general elections, around 15 million Chileans will be able to go to the polls to elect the new President, as well as deputies and senators who will take their seats in the national Congress.
The polls, considered unreliable after the latest elections, predict that none of the candidates will win in the first round and that the two most likely to pass the second round, scheduled for December 19, are Gabriel Boric, from the leftist Approving Dignity, and José Antonio Kast, from the Christian Social Front, on the far right.
Despite being seen as one of the most stable countries in Latin America, Chile was, according to some experts, a real “pressure cooker”: the inequality and impunity of the business and political elite involved in multiple cases of corruption and abuses created an evil -being that led to protests in October 2019.
The last straw was the increase in public transport, and the result was waves of massive demonstrations across the country from October 18, which resulted in 30 deaths, hundreds of people losing their sight (so-called ‘eye maimed’ ‘), hit by rubber bullets in the eyes by police and military forces suppressing protests, and thousands of others were wounded.
The institutional solution proposed by the political parties, echoing the main demands of the protesters, in concentrations with more than two million people, was the Constitutional Convention, the body in charge of drafting the new fundamental law that will replace the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
The Constitutional Convention, which began its functions on July 4th and is working hard to draft a new Constitution before July of next year that enshrines the solidarity of the State, is composed of 155 delegates – mostly progressive citizens -, among which include, for the first time in the country’s history, 17 representatives of ten indigenous peoples.