Solidarity: a socialist, feminist, anti-racist organization
the return to democracy in the country’s 1988 plebiscite, the lead-ing role of UDI in his coalition, along with his family’s ties to themilitary regime, have contributed to fears of a democratic reversaland the beginnings of a new phase of unbridled capitalism gov-erned directly by businessmen.In the end, Piñera, who led all candidates in the rst round with36% of the vote, beat Frei quite handily in the run-off, reachingalmost 52%. Frei, who disappointed throughout, failed to capi-talize on the unfading popularity of president Bachelet (SP) andmanaged to scramble together 48% in the run-off, compared tothe lowly 29% he received in the rst round. The candidacy of ‘independent’ Socialist, Marco Enríquez Ominami or MEO, madethese elections more interesting than past ones. MEO broke fromthe Concertación ranks and obtained just over 20% in the rstround, having successfully tapped into the current frustration withChile’s neoliberal model and the Concertación governments thathave managed it. And, Jorge Arrate, an old-school Socialist (albeitwith strong ties to the Concertación) ran on the Communist-ledticket, getting a respectable 6.2% of votes cast. As Arrate’s voteswere already committed to Frei, the second round largely becamea contest over MEO’s followers.But what do these results really mean? A number of incorrect (orat best incomplete) conclusions, often stemming from question-able assumptions about the current regime, have been reached.Treating Piñera’s win as simply a win for the right and a defeatof the ‘center-left’ fails to clarify what has actually happened inChile since 1990 and what direction the country may now movein. What follows is a short analysis of the elections and Chileanpolitics in general which might help correct some of the errone-ous views that have been offered in the aftermath of the January18 run-off.
1. The loss of the Concertación should not be viewed interms a right wing backlash or reassertion against the re-gion’s ‘Pink Tide’.
The Concertación has very little to do withthe ‘Pink Tide’ phenomenon, both in terms of its social bases,its domestic policies, and its position on hemispheric affairs. It iswith good reason that the US foreign policy establishment viewsthe Concertación as the prime exemplar of the ‘good left’ in LatinAmerica.