By Satyaki Chakraborty
The results of May 7 elections in Chile on the issue of Constitutional changes, have led to far right victory and big defeat for the Chilean presidency including the Left signalling a period of big turmoil in the political transition of this South American nation. The verdict of the Chilean people shows that though they voted against the earlier right wing government and installed a progressive president, their views on the democratization of the Chilean society remain orthodox. President Gabriel Boric’s centre-left government is facing no immediate threat to its existence.
Chilean Communists have warned that their country’s democracy is in danger after the right, including the extremist Republican Party, won 33 of the 50 seats on the body that will draft a new constitution. CPC candidates got just 8 per cent of the votes in the elections winning two seats on the new Constitutional Commission.
The left wingers have been stunned at the extent of the Right victory. Before the polls, all the opinion polls predicted a tough battle and the consolidation of the right wingers on the issue of the pattern of constitutional changes. It was expected that the right might scrape through but there was never any inkling that it would be a disaster for the ruling presidency.
The Chilean Communist Party which got third highest vote in the general elections in December 2021, is naturally very worried. CPC president Guillermo Teillier said that now, the battle would be tough and every attention had to be given to maintain unity and focus on the immediate agenda for changes within the framework of the present constitution.
It is now the job of Communists “to contribute to the government in this difficult time and to contribute as much as possible to save the program that the right wing intends to definitively sink,” he said. President Gabriel Boric also appealed to his coalition partners to go into the reasons for the setback and take follow up actions for implementation.
Significantly, about 21 per cent of the votes cast on May 7 polls, were discarded as spoiled. That represents a large number of votes out of the total of 15 million votes cast in the country. Voting is compulsory in Chile, according to the present constitution. A good part of the spoiled voters belongs to different fringes of the Left. If they had voted, the voting results, could have been a bit better for the ruling coalition.
President Gabriel Boric is widely respected and he has been coordinating talks with his supporting parties quite admirably. His agenda for transformation of the Chilean Society is pro-people. He hoped that with his majority in the Constitutional Council, his presidency will be able to bring about the changes as per his agenda. Now that has got a big setback. The Right will be desperate in both the national assembly as also in the newly set up Constitutional Council to block Boric’s programmes.
Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations. Today only about 5 percent of the population is native Mapuche and other indigenous groups. Nearly 95 percent of Chileans have a mixture of native and European roots. There are areas in the south where the Mapuche live, speak their language, and practice their own religion. About 40 per cent of the population lives in the area around the capital of Santiago.
The region is rich in natural beauty and plant and animal life. The long coastline is home to penguins, pelicans, and sea lions, and migratory whales can be seen in the waters as they journey to and from feeding and breeding grounds. Puma, alpacas, vicunas, foxes, condors, and flamingos are all found on the diverse landscapes of Chile.
The Atacama Desert is one of the driest areas on the Earth. There are many species of reptiles and cacti. The country’s rich supply of copper is also found in the desert region.
The other Latin American nations with left wing governments are looking to Chile as Chile is one of the most prosperous nations in the sub-continent. The agenda of the president Gabriel Boric was the subject of debate among the Latin American Left. The trade unions and the peasant organisations of the country gave the programme full support. But now, the implementation will face tough resistance with the strengthening of the Right in the Constitutional Council. The Latin American Left has come to realise that just winning national elections is not enough, the battle for reforms and progress has to be continued all along. (IPA Service)