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GUILLERMO TEILLIER has offered the El Siglo newspaper an initial assessment of the presidential primaries within the left’s coalition Apruebo Dignidad (I approve/Pass Dignity - integrated by Chile Digno/Dignified Chile and Frente Amplio/Broad Front), although he stresses: “we are just beginning the in-depth analysis.”
Teillier highlights the high participation in the process and the positive vote for [Chile’s Communist presidential candidate] Daniel Jadue and Chile Digno, while reiterating the commitment to work now for the presidential candidacy of Gabriel Boric, who has won the primary to become the candidate of the whole left.
There are questions about what happened, but I would like to start with what will happen. After the primaries, what's next for the Communist Party?
Undoubtedly a few days of reflection, of analysis of the results, because time is tight. On August 23 we have to register parliamentary and regional councillor candidates. We also have to fine-tune the next steps together with Chile Digno and work out formulas with the Frente Amplio to support Boric’s candidacy.
Is the Communist Party uncomfortable with a presidential campaign for Gabriel Boric, or are the conditions in place to get involved in such a campaign?
There is a commitment and we are not going to let it down, we assume it with our candidate Daniel Jadue leading it. We are very interested, for example, in analysing the common points in our programmes. We are not uncomfortable with this, it is the objective of Apruebo Dignidad. We will also have to discuss what appear as differences or nuances, in order to strengthen what unites.
Would you agree that now Apruebo Dignidad has a greater chance of winning the presidency?
As we said, whoever wins this primary has a good chance of becoming president of Chile. Furthermore, our primary had a high level of citizen participation, with resounding results for Apruebo Dignidad and an overwhelming rejection of the right wing.
Boric [an independent] made overtures to Paula Narvaez [Socialist Party (PS) nominee and former minister and secretary-general in the government of Michelle Bachelet] saying that we have to be open. There are people in the Socialist Party who were happy with the victory of the Frente Amplio candidate. At the same time, from the Christian Democrats, everything continues to indicate that they will put Yasna Provoste as their candidate and that they could refuse to hold primaries in Constituent Unity [an alliance of Christian Democratic Party, Radical Party, Socialist Party and Party for Democracy 9PPD) plus the Progressive Party and Citizens].
Do you think there is a possibility that the PS, now with Boric as candidate, will enter the Apruebo Dignidad pact? Do you think that there will be a move to the centre to capture votes?
I think there has already been a “shift” from the centre to vote for Boric mainly. That is to say, part of that centre, of the niche of PS and PPD voters, came over to the left-wing primary. I cannot anticipate what Boric’s definitions will be in this respect, nor what the Socialist Party is thinking. Nor is it clear what the Christian Democrats will do. That is why it is so important to have a well-defined programme that responds to popular demand and has an anti-neoliberal content, which is what motivated us to sign this pact.
What role do you see for Daniel Jadue in the future?
Jadue, in addition to continuing as mayor [of the Santiago borough of Recoleta], assumes a leadership role that is projected into the future and will play an important role in continuing to forge agreements that will allow further progress in this process of profound changes in the country.
He obtained a high vote, which consolidates that of Chile Digno overall and that of the Communist Party in particular, and introduced programmatic lines that remain and will remain in force.
We are in the midst of a constitutional debate that requires us to be present in the popular debate. And the next presidential elections are not so far away.
Does the result of the right wing, with fewer votes in the primaries than Apruebo Dignidad, reinforce your thesis that this sector will come third in the first round [of the presidential election in November]?
It is still a possibility. It will depend on how many opposition candidacies emerge. Although there’s Sebastian Sichel [Citizens], who is originally from and still has relations in the Christian Democrats and their class interests. He has a centrist stance, he is the candidate of La Moneda. I would not dismiss his potential because they are going to play for him [he’s close to Pinera and was president of the State Bank ].
What happened, what went wrong to see Boric win almost double Jadue’s vote?
We are just beginning the analysis. And I don’t want to advance a judgement that should be collective.
If you had to point out errors and strengths of the campaign of Daniel Jadue and Chile Digno, where would you place them?
I would venture to say that there was great strength in the territorial deployment, which, however, did not manage to overcome the media siege with a negative bias towards the candidate and his programme, which was exacerbated in the last days of the campaign, with a high dose of anti-communism.
We did not foresee its impact well. Anti-communism in Chile is structural and we should have considered it in greater depth. The counter-campaign had an effect, however, and the mass of voters who had not voted for Apruebo Dignidad in the May elections, almost 500,000, turned overwhelmingly to Boric. This partly explains our defeat. But more analysis is needed.
However, what Jadue achieved means that, despite everything, as Chile Digno and of course as the CP, we have achieved a new position of greater political impact. I know that there will be some natural expressions of dismay at not winning, but we have to do the maths properly, we got more votes, we have a clear positioning and leadership of our candidate and the prospect of being part of an Apruebo Digno government.
How do you view Jadue’s self-criticism that the parties that backed him arrived late and that there was a lack of unity on the left?
It is a factor to consider. I think as Chile Digno we will have to delve deeper into this. As the Communist Party we welcome the criticism and we will analyse it with the aim of anticipating the possible outcomes.
In any case, Jadue obtained almost 700,000 votes. The CP had or has a nationally positioned leader. Despite not winning the primaries, do you still consider that the communists made progress, that they gained from what happened?
Of course they did. And I believe that the results have to be analysed in each commune, district or region, so that we can continue to advance on that basis. There is a world of perspectives and the most correct thing to do today is to continue with great strength and conviction in pursuit of our objectives.
We must always keep in mind all that we have struggled to reach this moment: the triumphs, the defeats, the sacrifices, always looking ahead. We owe it to those who have gone before us and given so much and we must continue to pave the way for today and tomorrow.
This article first appeared in El Siglo Communist Party of Chile newspaper. Hugo Guzman is its editor.
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