By Nehal Mohamed ElHussien
At the Centrestage:
The election that took place in Chile on the 15th and 16th of May, where the left-wing and independent candidates won two-thirds of the seats for a convention to rewrite the constitution which goes back to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet is a historic shift in the country’s political dynamics.
Decoding in Detail:
The municipal elections and constituent elections has helped Chile to write a new constitution. Chile had a Pinochet-era constitution that was written during the time of the military dictatorship, of Augusto Pinochet. In October 2019, Chile had a social uprising also referred to as a popular rebellion against the Neo-liberal model. The people only had one demand then which was to change the constitution of the dictatorship the constitution of Pinochet. The government responded rather quickly by meeting with the political elite of the dominant political parties and held a plebiscite to be certain whether the people wanted a new constitution or not. However, they did not call this meeting a constitutional assembly but a constitutional convention. They named it like that to set certain limits such as it is not a sovereign assembly; it cannot influence the free trade agreements; and everything that is written must have the approval of at least two-thirds, which only limits the room for action. After social pressure, these rules has changed a little, for instance, it became a representative convention and they allowed Indigenous peoples to have seats even though it was not sufficient.
On October 25, 2020, nearly 80% approved a new constitution. Even with the previously mentioned limitations, on May 15 and 16 the constitution representatives were elected. Despite the many inconveniences that happened, the independent candidates won 44 seats out of the total 155. It is also important to notice that the traditional political parties that have governed Chile for the past 30 years have only obtained the smallest number of seats in these elections. The Christian Democracy party only got two seats as for the Radical Party only got one seat and the Socialist Party did survive. The social movements and the independent candidates have won a lot of seats and the alliance of left-wing parties, defined as anti Neo-liberal parties, which includes the Communist Party and the Broad Front also won a lot of seats and this present the possibility for transformation. Although it did not reach the two-thirds needed because there are independent candidates who are funded by the right wing or by foundations that have powerful economic interests behind them, it all relays on the social pressure which is more important.
The Socialist Party has announced the possibility of forming alliances with the anti Neo-liberal pole, instead of its traditional alliance of the past 30 years that formed after the dictatorship formed with the center and the right in order to preserve the Neo-liberal model. The importance of people’s victory in terms of geopolitics is that there will be elections held in Peru in June and according to the polls Pedro Castillo is in first place. Also there is an election in Nicaragua in November, and another in Chile in the same month. It can also be noticed that the coup d’etat failed in Bolivia, and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party has regained power again.
The geo-strategic importance of this moment involves Chile and all the above mentioned Andean countries. Between Peru and Chile, there is more than 60% of the world’s copper reserves. Those are the two main copper-exporting countries that is exported. In addition, between Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, there is more than 80% of the world’s lithium. An alliance would form between Bolivia, Argentina, Perú, and Chile, with a policy collaborating in the management and industrialization of these natural goods, South America could become a pole with important global geopolitical and economic weight.With the de-carbonization of the global economy it would increase the global demand for copper by around 40%. Creating an alliance between the countries of South America will be helpful to have national sovereignty, a policy of integration, and of adequately managing the common natural goods and resources. Copper and lithium are the oil of the future and it is going to be an issue of national security, having access to these resources.
What makes these elections very remarkable is that there were rich candidates funded by powerful economic interests by multimillionaires who put a lot of money into right-wing and centrist candidates just to try to have seats there but they weren’t elected. On the other hand, very poor candidates but with a very important communicative strategy, which is what the List of the People, did mainly got elected.
The election in Chile is a turning point as the chance for positive transformation is presented for the first time to the people. This is considered a possibility because the social movement and the independent candidates has won a lot of seats. Another positive thing to consider is that the politicians’ parties that used to dominate a lot of space is going to take into consideration the power of social pressure which is done through social media and on the streets. This influence can make a space for progress in Chile.
Norton, B. (2021). Chile shifts left to rewrite Pinochet-era constitution, as Goldman Sachs eyes its copper reserves | The Grayzone. Retrieved 27 May 2021, from https://thegrayzone.com/2021/05/20/chile-election-pinochet-constitution-copper/