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Opinion Chile's presidential primaries: the return of dignity for the people

As Chile's long democratic tradition is slowly being re-established the magnitude of the tasks ahead comes sharply into focus, writes MANUEL RIESCO

GABRIEL BORIC and the Frente Amplio have received a strong mandate from citizens to lead Apruebo Dignidad, the political force that the presidential primaries have confirmed as the first in the country.

Together with Daniel Jadue, who led Chile Digno in the formation of this political force and who has reaffirmed it by immediately and unequivocally embracing the winner of the day.

They both deserve the recognition and affection of the people who, with their massive participation in another impeccable democratic day, placed their trust in them to lead them in carrying out the necessary reforms, with the breadth and determination of Salvador Allende.

The right, for its part, aware of its relative electoral weakness, which the result of the primary has confirmed, has minimised the risk of an almost certain defeat against the left-wing coalition in the second round of the presidential elections by choosing its weakest candidate to represent it in the first round, thus leaving the way open for a probable centre candidate.

The political centre, for its part, whose weakness as a third force has been made evident by its failure to even compete in these primaries, will surely regroup in the coming days behind the figure of Senator Yasna Provoste [Chistian Democrats and currently president of the Senate of Chile], who, with the probable more or less covert support of the right, has a chance of facing the left in the second round of the presidential election.

Thus, after the primaries, the first presidential round has been more or less resolved, although there will probably be several other candidates, including at least one from the left of Apruebo Dignidad and, on the other hand, the fascist coup proponents, as well as several others representing particular sensibilities.

The electoral picture described above, together with the remarkable installation of the Constitutional Convention, revives the political tradition that distinguishes Chile around the world and enhances its political system, which has almost always proved capable of democratically channelling successive massive irruptions of the people into politics, including revolutions and right-wing surges.

This is the main issue for everyone. To understand and accept that history is driven by the constant confrontation between the working people and the elites, in which those from below periodically burst onto the scene to demand respect and to establish a healthy balance of forces and to push those from above to resolve the internal struggles in favour of the fractions willing to carry out the reforms necessary for the continued progress of society.

In the classical words, to understand that history is the history of class struggle.

The people of Chile lost their naivety in the latter part of the 20th century, and understood that such progress does not exclude brutal setbacks, in which the most reactionary factions of the elites manage to impose themselves by brute force and corruption. But it has also learned to confront them in all areas and, as the events since October 18 2020 bear out, that such setbacks are transitory and that sooner or later societies will recover their interrupted path of progress.

In order to channel popular discontent, the political system must carry out the necessary reforms that will put an end to the abuses and distortions that were imposed with the oligarchic restoration of September 11 1973 [and the overthrow of Salvador Allende].

This means duly addressing the demands that are being voiced from all walks of life, from all regions and nations, which make up our insurgent people.

From the economic point of view, this means mainly imposing respectful wage structures – money never again to be diverted to finance business but to provide a decent life for the working people, including the old.

The plurinational-state has to establish sovereign control over copper and other natural resources, to reorient the economy from extractivist rentierism towards a generation of added value. No more and no less.

These reforms are an objective necessity and must be assumed and fully realised by a political force capable of leading the revolutionary process. The united left, headed now by Gabriel Boric, will have an opportunity to assume such responsibility in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. But this will also apply to any eventual centre candidate that might emerge.

If none of them does so, other political forces will emerge to displace them in the leadership of this indispensable task.

This article first appeared in El Siglo, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Chile.

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