Election in Chile: Defeat of the far-right opens the road for new mass struggles

By André Ferrari, Liberdade, Socialismo e Revolução (our sister organisation in Brazil)

Gabriel Boric, of the “Apruebo Dignidad” (Approve Dignity) coalition has defeated the far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast in the second round of the Chilean elections. Boric obtained 55.8% of the votes, almost one million more than Kast.

This reversed the situation of the first round, where Kast had won first place. At that time, an important part of young and working class voters, disappointed with the political system and unenthusiastic about Boric’s moderate approach, preferred not to go to the polls.

Workers and youth turn out to defeat far-right

Faced with the threat of a “Pinochetista” victory in the second round (Kast is open about his support for the Pinochet dictatorship) turnout and participation were greater and led to Kast’s defeat. Boric’s electoral victory represents a setback for the plans of the most truculent wings of the ruling class that had plans to forcibly impose a decisive defeat of the great popular revolt that broke out in Chile in October 2019.

A government of the far-right, with significant electoral support, would be better placed to step up the repression and attacks already being carried out by current president Sebastian Piñera — which are being confronted with powerful resistance and lack any popular legitimacy. Now, the ruling class is counting on Boric being reigned in and domesticated and that his government convinces workers, young people, women and indigenous people to not continue and deepen their struggles. At the same time, the ruling class, betting on the future demise of Boric, will also prepare the ground to unleash their rabid dogs of the far-right.

Boric’s political moderation offers no way forward

The well-deserved popular celebrations of Boric’s victory must not allow us to forget that the decisive defeat of the Chilean far-right can only be achieved with the resumption of mass struggle and rank and file organization in different regions, workplaces, schools and universities. All of this, in defense of a radical transformation of Chilean society that buries once and for all neoliberalism, authoritarianism, inequality and the system that lays at their root.

The political moderation and conciliatory position of Boric and a large part of the Chilean left — or center-left — puts almost everything at risk in a context of political and social polarization and the desire for real change. The massive uprising of October 2019 could have brought down Piñera and created the conditions for a legitimate and sovereign Constituent Assembly. But, the signing of the “Pacto por la Paz” (The Peace Pact) and the acceptance of a Constituent Convention with limited powers allowed Piñera to survive and opened the space for the far-right to rear its ugly head.

No time To wait: Deepen working-class struggle

Boric’s victory represents an opportunity for the Chilean masses to restart the dynamic of struggle of recent years and build a genuine alternative for the working class and oppressed. We cannot accept any notion of a truce or national reconciliation. We cannot adopt a wait-and-see attitude as to what measures will be adopted by the new government.

We must raise the demands of public health and education, the right to retire, the nationalization and workers’ control of natural resources and key sectors of the economy, the defence of women’s rights, the guarantee of the rights of the Mapuche and all other indigenous peoples. We need to strengthen the organization of struggle from below, unify movements and build for a general strike even more powerful than that of November 2019. We need to aim at the perspective of a government of the workers and oppressed with an anti-capitalist and socialist program.

Only in this way will the Chilean masses consolidate their victory against the far-right and win a dignified life. Once again, Chile is a reference for the struggles of the workers, youth and oppressed in Latin America and across the world. Let us learn from their experience, link our struggles and win a socialist Latin America and socialist world.

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