Chile’s 7 May election a rejection of the ruling political caste

Protest in Chile, 2019 (Photo: CC)

The elections on 7 May show us, once again, that the people are tired of the corrupt political caste that rules Chile. In the elections there were more than 34% spoiled, blank or ‘none of the above’ votes. In other words, a third of the electoral roll showed their anger or disinterest with the political caste and their negotiations behind the backs of the people, in a country where it is mandatory to vote.

However, it is true that in this the extreme right semi fascistic (Republicans) are the winners of these elections. They got the most candidates elected for the Constituent Council. Many of these votes are also the expression of the anger that people have against the traditional political caste.

It is also true that the “centre left” parties, the former Concertación coalition and the traditional right parties, performed very badly. These are the parties that have been in government for the last three decades. The Christian Democrats (DC), and the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) did not even have enough votes to elect a councillor.

Of the parties that support the current government of Boris, the only one that obtained an increase in votes by sticking their heads slightly above the water was the Communist Party, which obtained a little more than 5% of the votes. It must not be forgotten that this percentage is calculated in relation to the validly cast votes. It does not include the voters of the total electoral roll. This also applies to the vote of the ultra-right (Republicans).

The May 7 elections were a complete fraud

The Agreement for Chile to amend the constitution presents at least four stages. The first has to do with the “constitutional borders” which are laid down. There are 12 points of the old constitution bequeathed by the military dictatorship that cannot be modified by even a comma. These 12 points are the essence of the constitution of the former Pinochet dictatorship and have the sole objective of protecting the interests of the political caste and the ruling class.

Then there is a second stage that allows for the appointment of “24 experts” by the senators and deputies in the Congress. It is worth noting that both Senators and Deputies are the worst least representatives for the majority of the citizens of this country. The designated “24 experts” are those who already have begun writing the new constitution, as of March 6, 2023.

A third stage includes the election of 50 councillors (elected on May 7). All the candidates were handpicked by the parties. What will be the role played by the 50 elected councillors? If the “constitutional edges”  and the constitution written by the “24 experts” already exist,  it is assumed that the elected Constitutional Council can modify the text written by the “experts” and eventually could incorporate new articles. However, it must be approved by 60% of the councillors – in other words, they have no chance of changing anything. Given the political make-up of the new council, any changes made will only make the constitution worse than that bequeathed by Pinochet.

The fourth stage and the icing on the cake of all this grand fraud is given by the 14-member “Admissibility Technical Committee” which is also appointed by Congress. This has among its powers the right to veto any article approved by the Constitutional Councill. This is any article they consider contrary to the “constitutional borders”, the 12 points of the principle that cannot be touched.

All this shows a real panic and fear of the bourgeoisie and the Chilean political caste of the demand for change that exists amongst the masses. The new constituent process, with its Constitutional Council, is the exact opposite of a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly which was demanded by the masses during the mass protests which erupted in 2019.

In other words, in the elections on Sunday, May 7, the citizens of Chile did not decide anything, at all. It was an absolutely fraudulent and anti-democratic electoral exercise, as well as unnecessary. Many people say the only reason for this election is explained by the necessity that the political parties have to make cash. For every vote they receive they get a payment from the state. Each vote for them represents an amount of money that enters their coffers. They are also trying to give the impression that this constitutional process is democratic, something that could not be further from reality.

The corrupt political caste left us no choice but to call for an abstention in this anti-democratic and fraudulent election. It is clear that this constitutional fraud could not be endorsed. The sum of the null and blank votes and the abstention express the rejection of what amounts to a constitutional coup by the institutional political forces of Congress.

Reporting on the “victory” of the Republican Party on the night of the election of Constitutional Councillors, a commentator on television spoke of the triumph of the “centre-right”. This is a clear effort to try to whitewash the image of the Chilean ultra-right , which obtained 35.42% of the valid votes cast. The “valid votes cast” leave out the null and blank votes out of the universal percentage vote count. The official coalition of Boric’s government Unity for Chile of the Frente Amplio, Partido Communista and Partido Socialista obtained just 28.7% of the votes.

The agreement reached in Congress penalised the election of Constitutional Councillors from the most populated regions in favour of the least inhabited regions that were considered more conservative. So these percentages multiplied in favour of the extreme right in the election.

The big losers are the “progressives”

Boris’s government defined itself as “progressive” and “feminist”, which raised identity flags, such as “feminism”, “indigenismo”, and LGBT rights. This initially allowed the government to gain votes and popularity amongst sections of the population. This has turned into its opposite. The government lost support as it swung to the right. They lost a lot of support when they opposed working women receiving the Universal Guaranteed Pension (PGU) at the age of 60 years. And the government lost support after it announced the declaration of the State of Exception, and the permanent militarization of the territory of the Mapuche people.

Piergentili , President of the PPD (governing party), said after the defeat in the elections on May 7: “If you want to continue talking to the hairy monkeys, to the 30% you have, to your compañeros, I don’t think you have any desire to do self-criticism. You keep pampering that sector with the gender identity agenda and all that nonsense …”

The votes of the last election can be read as a vote against the Boric government. It has conducted a zigzagging policy and failed to resolve the fundamental problems that the majority of the population face. The issue of public security has also become a major issue that has been highlighted by the media, which is controlled by the business right, and are demanding the government to apply a strong hand of repression.

But what the ruling elite does not understand is that without social policies, repressive laws and policies against crime are only a declaration of war against the poorest sectors. The justice system uses the legal measures at its discretion to brutally respond to the legitimate exercise of protests and demonstrations carried out by social organisations, political activists and indigenous peoples. That is why we say no to the repressive laws against the working people.

The social demands of October 2019 are fully in the aspirations and consciousness of the majority of the population, especially in the popular sectors. This is reflected by the Republicans (ultra-right) who cynically repeat a speech in favour of social justice, wage increases, more hospitals and access to housing for the poorest sectors of the population.

The 34% of the voters who did not vote for any of the parties continue to have a very important weight in society. Amongst the abstentions and blank votes there is an important sector of the hardest and most radical left, who took that path in these elections.

This whole electoral process never achieved much popularity nor did it manage to mobilise important sectors of the population. This is reflected in the fact that electoral participation was much lower than expected by the political caste and the business right, to try to give legitimacy to the fraud that they are carrying out. Where voting is compulsory, nearly 20% did not vote and over 30% of those that did voted blank or abstained.

On the night of the elections, when the votes were counted at the first tables, the commentators on the television channels highlighted the record result of null and blank votes. Then following an editorial instruction they quickly stopped mentioning this live.

According to the Servel (Chilean electoral service), with 99.44% of the votes counted, invalid votes reached 16.98% of the votes, blanks were 4.55%, and between them they totalled 2,673,525 preferences (21.53% of the total). Votes with offensive phrases and rude drawings, which clearly showed a desire to annul the vote, are considered blank votes in Chile. This vote far exceeds most of the right-wing pacts and pro-government sectors. Thus the People’s Party crashed to 5.48%, Todo por Chile, which grouped the PPD, DC and PR, got 8.96%, suffering a resounding defeat. The traditional right of Chile Vamos, renamed Chile Seguro, obtained 21.07% and was vastly out performed by the fascistic Republican Party.

Some analysts do not take into account the character of the vote as a punishment and protest against the whole of the institutional political caste and the government. And some other commentators, ‘experts’ and academics of political science argue the absurd case that the null or blank vote is down to people who do not know how to vote, or to voters who do not care about the result. This clearly does not explain the sharp increase in null and blank votes.

The ” annulment ” that was pushed for on social media networks and in the polls provoked some to accuse the null vote of “playing the game for the right”. This was the cry from activists and political operators of the government parties. Their efforts were in vain. The vast majority of the invalid vote was not a vote out of ignorance, on the contrary, it was a highly politicised vote.

The government and its parties have invited defeat through this fraudulent constituent process that they promoted from a pathological desire to close the cycle that began with the popular uprising from October 2019 onwards. The result is undoubtedly bad for the government and especially for the parties of the centre political arc (DC, PR, PPD) who, once again, suffer another electoral defeat. They failed to elect any of their candidates. We cannot fail to mention that the entire system of political parties in Chile is undergoing a deep crisis of decomposition and legitimacy.

Boris’s government is suffering a permanent erosion of support with a social situation of inflation and low salaries. Boric has abandoned many of his campaign promises. His government has promoted approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the US, continued with the militarization of Araucanía, backed the Nain -Retamal law, popularly known as the “easy trigger”, making it easier for police to open fire on people without fear of prosecution and forgetting of his programme to re-found the hated Carabineros de Chile police force. The promise of the 40-hour law, so celebrated by the ruling party, basically remained in the title of the law and has become a labour flexibility law that only serves employers. 

The supposed announcement of the nationalisation of lithium excited more people outside of Chile than within it. It was an empty announcement because it is only an announcement about the future bidding for resource exploitation licences, which has no possibility of advancing as nationalisation in Congress. It also guarantees the exploitation licences already granted to Soquimich ( SQM ) by Julio Ponce Lerou , and the multinational, Albermale . It is not surprising, therefore, that except for the politicians who wanted to take advantage of these two pieces of news, there was no enthusiasm from anyone else and the ‘nationalisation’ announcement had no effect on the electoral results.

Vote against and raise a new political and social alternative

The more than two million and six hundred thousand invalid and blank votes in the election provide a broad enough base to raise a campaign to reject the plebiscite to be held in December 2023 on the constitution. A campaign on this should also serve to start raising a political and social alternative that truly represents a broad sector of the population and the workers who do not feel represented by any of the traditional parties.

From now on, it is necessary to organise a new political and social force that represents the demands of the workers, the poor people and the popular sectors, in general. This can assist us to organise future massive protests come the inevitable new upturn in social struggles that will develop. None of the issues leading to the mass movement in 2019 have been resolved.  Such a new political force and party need to outline a clear path towards allowing the working class to come to power, to form a workers’ government, with a socialist programme, and thus put an end to the disastrous capitalist system and its injustices.





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