Another nation's young people turn against neoliberalism
The November 16 edition of The Economist made a definitive statement.
Chile’s voters are in no mood for reckless radicalism
If voters were really angry they could choose one of six other contenders, most plausibly Beatriz Sánchez, a journalist with a radical plan for taxing the rich to ramp up spending by the state. Ms Díaz, the teacher, says without enthusiasm that she will probably vote for her. But pollsters give Ms Sánchez little chance. Chileans do not want to break with the liberal economic model set up under Pinochet and refined by his elected successors.
Neoliberals have loved Chile and its privatized everything since the 1970's. It's supposed to represent "the future" for Latin America, and their stable, unsurprising elections between right-wing and centrist candidates seemed to prove this.
And then this happened.
Piñera, a billionaire and former president, had been widely expected to cruise to victory – and possibly even win outright in the first round. He still took first place, taking 36% of the vote, but faced a strong challenge by two main leftwing rivals who between them won 43%.
Former TV news anchor Alejandro Guillier, who heads a centre-left alliance, came second in the presidential race, but the real political earthquake, was the emergence of a new political force, the Frente Amplio – or Broad Front – whose roots can be traced to student protests that shook the country in 2011.
Often compared to the Podemos movement in Spain, the FA is an anti-establishment alliance of left-liberal parties, ecologists, humanists and grassroots organizations.
Among the movement’s demands are the replacement of Chile’s neoliberal economic model together with the Pinochet-era constitution; broad changes to the country’s pension system; and major reforms in health, education, workers’ rights and wages.
Led by Beatriz Sánchez, a 46-year-old journalist who came third with 20% of the popular vote, Frente Amplio will now also control 12% of the 155-seat chamber of deputies.
The 2011’s mass protests were over high levels of inequality in Chile.
Broad Front was only supposed to get 10% of the vote. Instead the kids come out with a strong and surprising anti-neoliberal vote.
Imagine that. It wasn't enough, but it changed the political environment, similar to Podemos in Spain, Labour in Britain, and Obrador in Mexico.
It also reminds me of Melenchon's supporters in France, who recognize that the neoliberal center isn't significantly better than the hard-right.
By next Wednesday, Frente Amplio, or Broad Front, is due to decide whether or not to support Mr Guillier. But party leaders make it clear they will be unable to do so without clear gestures on issues that matter most to the student-dominated bloc, including pensions and constitutional reform.
“We are a new political option that doesn’t respond to the promiscuous relationship between business and politics. We want to break the neoliberal logic that has reined in Chile for the last 50 years, imposed by [General Pinochet’s] dictatorship but that has been broadly maintained,” she says.
That sounds like Democrats and their "Bernie Bros Problem".