What the polls have been saying, not only in Chile - 11/24/2021 - Maria Hermínia Tavares

This week, analysts drew attention to the results of last Sunday’s Chilean elections. After all, they exposed the breaking of the pattern of dispute between two centrist coalitions that had prevailed since the return of democracy in 1990 and made the whole game quite predictable.

On Monday (22), in this Folha, while Marcus Melo unraveled the changes in electoral rules that made the classic pattern of centripetal competition collapse, Mathias Alencastro emphasized the generational change, with the rise of progressive leaders revealed in the social mobilizations of the last decade .

But Sunday’s numbers, resulting from changes in competition rules and the inevitable change of guard between generations, translated above all into a huge rejection of the previous political system. The same rejection that took crowds to the streets in the so-called “stallido” (pop) of 2019 and in the elections for the Constituent Convention in which the lists of independents prevailed.

Now candidates from the center-left and center-right forces, who have won all presidents and parliamentary majorities over the past three decades, have had fewer votes than third-placed Franco Parisi. Resident in the United States, he didn’t even bother to campaign in his country.

According to political scientist Claudia Heiss, from the University of Chile, by voting for Parisi, voters punished traditional political forces. The “punishment vote” is also one of the characteristics of recent electoral processes in the region, as highlighted by Daniel Zovatto, director for America and the Caribbean at International Idea, a Swedish organization that monitors democracy and voting around the world.

According to him, since 2019 the governors have been defeated in practically all the disputes held in the area for different positions, going against a trend that in the past —and in lots of countries— used to give incumbents an advantage. The victory of candidates with anti-system speeches; the fragmentation of party systems or their instability —due to the limited lifespan of party organizations, constantly replaced by new groupings— and governments lacking a solid parliamentary majority complete the picture of political turmoil that is shaking the region.

Like so many others, Chilean elections are the result of a particular history, but at the same time, they expose the common difficulty of anchoring stable democracies in a terrain undermined by low economic growth, corruption, a lot of poverty and centuries-old social distances.

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