Michelle CAP-chelet

Esa gorda sí camina
Esa gorda sí camina

(Note: a rare non-Venezuela post on the Chilean election … viewed from a Venezuelan point of view)

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Michelle Bachelet.

After returning from a supposedly glorious stint at the UN, after numerous polls gave her a commanding, overwhelming lead, this election was supposed to be a cake-walk. Her victory – dare I use the pun? – was supposed to be a tsunami.

Fully confident of her win, she assumed the role of vessel for a yearning for change that some Chileans seem to be loudly expressing. She put together a coalition of centrist Christian Democrats longing to return to power, and radical Communists who effectively vetoed, for example, any criticism of the Bolivarian Revolution, all glued together by that cryptic smile of hers, by a candidate that waved and avoided saying much, under the umbrella of a slogan (“Chile de todos“) that was as unassailable as it was false.

By the sheer virtue of her stature and her charisma, she was supposed to glide to a first-round victory and a large super-majority in Congress, one that would give her a mandate for sweeping change. “Un congreso para Michelle ” read numerous advertisements.

She didn’t get that.

Instead, Michelle Bachelet finds herself in an annoying second-round battle with Evelyn Matthei.

Sure, she’s going to win. Come March, she will be President, one with comfortable majorities in Congress.

But it won’t feel as sweet. Bachelet set incredibly high standards for herself, and she failed to achieve them. She now has a choice.

She could interpret this solid, yet underwhelming win as a mandate for radical change. She could convince herself that an abstention rate of 45% – unheard of in Chile – is not important, that the second round is not important, and that institutions are not important, and simply claim a mandate.

In other words, she could be CAP.

Remember that in 1988, CAP misinterpreted what the voters wanted. He trusted that by the sheer will of his persona, he could push through radical changes, changes that Venezuelans were simply not ready to accept, and that they hadn’t really voted for. Hubris engendered follies, and we are still suffering from it.

Bachelet could do that. She could claim a mandate to change the Constitution, to upend Chile’s tax structure, to do away with the “perverse” neoliberal system that served her, as well as her coalition, so well during their 20 years in power.

She could convince herself that, doggone it, Chileans like her, they really like her, so she’s going to do what she feels is right, and damn the torpedoes. Higher taxes! Gay marriage! Abortion! State-owned enterprises! Do away with the pension funds, private health insurers, and private education! Out goes the Constitution! Off with all of their heads!

Like CAP, however, she would be wrong.

Chileans don’t really want radical change, and this election showed it. When push came to shove, this conservative society decided that, yes, some change would do us nicely, but don’t get carried away Michelle. You can’t claim a revolution if roughly half of the people don’t even bother to vote.

Chile has its problems. Inequality is persistent, education needs to improve, and Chile needs to find creative ways of diversifying its economy. But Chileans do not want to go hard left, and Bachelet would be a fool to think otherwise. A country that is growing solidly, with full employment, with a broad middle class … doesn’t commit suicide. This is not Bolivia, nor Venezuela, nor Argentina.

Chile’s near future depends on how she decides to read her mandate.

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  1. This is a tricky one. If after the second round she wins, and proceeds with the constituent assembly, higher taxes, gay marriage, go for state owned education or single payer education, etc. it’s not like people can claim she gave them a … Paquete Chileno turum pish.

    She has been extremely upfront about it. I would worry more that she’s setting herself up as Allende 2.0. The guy wanted to revolutionaize Chile with only a third of Chileans on his side. The backlash was hard and unforgiving, tragic and sad.

    In this version Chile migh be up for a Correa style government (I don’t see her in the Chavismo league at all), with a Tea Party opposition. Common sense could be the first casualty and it would be a shame.

    I’ve said before: Latin America needs an example to follow that isn’t alien to us. I hoped the Pacific Alliance could be a beacon for common sense politics and growth. I fear that Chile is kind of the backbone of that organization, Colombia isn’t stable enough with the civil war (hopefully near its end), Peru was just starting to follow into Chile’s footsteps with the shadows of etno-cacerismo and fujimorismo lurking, Mexico is waging its war on drugs…

    I can only hope she proves me wrong.

    • She needed a huge win in order for the institutions (Congress, the Courts, the military) to fold over themselves and die. She didn’t get that. She can try, but the pushback will be enormous. It doesn’t seem she’s that kind of leader.

      • She might find herself between a sword and a hard place. If she fulfills her campaign promises the backlash from the opposition will be enourmous. If she doesn’t, the backlash from within her ranks will be also enourmous (and more disastorus with labor uninon pickets and student strikes).

        Chile does need some tweeks in the social area. Maybe she’ll just make lemonade with lemons she’s been given.

        • On the other hand, she almost doubled the government candidate. She got 45% and Mathei 25%. Even if she didn’t get congressional supermajorities now, if the voters the other candidates distribute proportionally (I have no idea how are te other candidates aligned) she might be looking at a 64-36 victory. Not shabby at all, I think we need to see how these events unfold before calling it.

          • I know, and you’re roght. I meant that winning 2nd round 64-36 would give the winner a nice mandate.

            Remember that Chávez didn’t have a congressional majority in 1998, yet he had enough legitimacy to call a consultive referendum, and we all know what happened next. I think Evo had a 50%+ majority when the Bolivian Constituent Assembly was summoned, and Correa’s case might be in the same league.

            All she will need is enough legitimacy to call the consultive referendum and some support: a slight congressional majority plus a strong 2nd round victory might be sufficient.

  2. Nice Ven-Con (Vzlan content) to explain the Chilean electoral process! I would welcome reading more, especially on Dec. 15th, or thereabouts.

  3. I *almost* hope that she goes crazy-commie-revolutionary-takeover mode and it blows on her face just as it did on CAP as well as on Allende.

    If that happens and chileans dont take that crap, the country will be better off after that knowing EXACTLY the kind of mushy doo-doo socio/commie garbage is.

    But Im almost sure that if such a thing were to happen, it will pass, our continent is full with really sinverguenza presidentes.

    Now, on a more serious note, I wonder, how the heck will the guys at Isla Presidencial bring her back?

      • But not only that, we also need a better citizen-will-expression-system than a free-for-all democracy.

        I know this is going to set me on raging fire, Amuay Style, but I ask anyone, honestly, who is, in theory, able to make the most educated, thoughtful and sound decision, someone who was received education, at least up to the degree of bachiller, someone who pays (reasonable, with respect to the country’s reality) taxes, has been a responsible family planner, or someone whos not even a bachiller, has no stable job, does not pay taxes whatsoever and mostly, depends on the state’s freebies to survive.

        Look at it on this way, theres this house, mom and dad bring the income, they have 3 kids, the eldest also works and pitches in for the house money pool, the other two are unemployed adults. How does the family budget get spent? Does everybody have the same weight at the time of decision making? Will the three working family members support the two unemployed ones forever, even if they are unemployed because they rather watch tv than get a job? All of you who are parents know that if

        you+spouse < #_of_children

        the children don't get to decide what the parents HAVE to do.

        Same with democracy.

        There should be a CLEAR separation between residents and citizens, "pueblo" is just a term that recalls an image of a XIX century settlement or a whole lot of people with no education and respect for the society whatsoever "dame lo que es mio porque somos el pueblo!", hordes in short. A citizen contributes to the welfare of the state as well as the others, respects society and fulfills his duties as well as he enjoys his rights and is able to make the state accountable for its actions.

        Citizenship should be earned thru social responsibility (fulfillment of duties) as well as fiscal responsibility (paying taxes), among other criteria.

        Then just as mommy and daddy on the house example, only citizens are allowed to cast a vote. For they are the ones that pitch in for the country to work.

          • Kernel_panic.

            I don’t know if Kernel is serious, though. He should know that what he is actually proposing was the absolute norm in societies from ancient Greek up to the XIX century.
            He wants to go back to models that were first abandoned by Scandinavian countries and then by virtually everybody else in democratic societies.

          • @ kepler

            Yes, I know that this comes back from ancient history and nobody uses that system anymore, Im not trying to go back to outdated systems, but I would want to discuss how to improve the current system, and I am taking that as a starting point for a new system, let me elaborate on this later.

            @ kepler & paco

            Im not saying that system is perfect, many will say that it is unjust that not everyone has a say, and of course it lends to corruption as for the state saying who has and who dont have a right to vote (like an another-side version of the inhabilitaciones)

            Obviously a new spin of this system would be required.

            The big advantage of democracy is that minorities are still proportionally represented, the problem is that for a winner-takes-all figure as is the president, the minoritys will is not represented on the presidential figure. This is ok if theres a clear mandate (like a 75%+ victory), but if the president gets elected by a small margin (say <5%) then is not fair that he tramples almost half of the country. In theory, an assembly or congress should contain presidential excesses, as the minorities will be represented here, but once again, a small victory margin will be more than enough to screw half of the people.

            True, such an exclusive system has the problem that the aristocrats se pagan y se dan el vuelto electing leaders that represent their economical interests rather than the majority of the population, and thats why democracy is improtant, because it counters this phenomenon,so this kind of restrictive system has to be set on a way that the state encourages the people to get their citizenship, not by lowering the bar, but by giving tools to reach it, and those tools have to be designed and executed in such a way that theres no possibility of them being used as political leverage.

            As I said earlier, kids are an integral part of the family, but no matter if they outnumber the parents, the parents are still the ones that make decisions.

            paco asked whos to say who can and who cant vote? Certainly Im not the one to answer that question single-nandedly, but I think the answer to that question is a consensus that we should build as a society.

            The premise should be that for you to have a voice on something, you have to be and have a part on that something (citizen), not just an spectator (resident).

  4. Santiago de Chile, 17 nov (EFE).- “Aquí no hay dos lecturas, hemos ganado y por una amplia mayoría”, dijo hoy la candidata a la presidencia de Chile por el pacto opositor Nueva Mayoría, la exmandataria Michelle Bachelet.

  5. I’m not sure if I understood you correctly, Juan, please correct me if I’m wrong:

    Reading your article one gets the idea that, after being almost sure of a landslide victory and not getting it, Bachelet should not get carried away and think that she has the support of the whole country, and push through the radical changes she promised (plainly or not-quite-so) without taking into account that many people didn’t vote or support the opposition. This I get, but there’s something confusing. You say:

    “She could convince herself that, doggone it, Chileans like her, they really like her, so she’s going to do what she feels is right, and damn the torpedoes. Higher taxes! Gay marriage! Abortion! State-owned enterprises! Do away with the pension funds, private health insurers, and private education! Out goes the Constitution! Off with all of their heads!”

    and then, you finish by saying:

    “Chile has its problems. Inequality is persistent, education needs to improve, and Chile needs to find creative ways of diversifying its economy. But Chileans do not want to go hard left, and Bachelet would be a fool to think otherwise. A country that is growing solidly, with full employment, with a broad middle class … doesn’t commit suicide. This is not Bolivia, nor Venezuela, nor Argentina.”

    I’m I wrong in thinking that you equate doing away with private health insurers and private education with legalizing gay marriage and abortion? That you equate gay marriage and abortion laws with committing suicide as a country? I mean, do you feel that way about gay marriage and abortion yourself or is your point more in the “chileans are not ready for this type of change in their society and pushing for them would be a mistake”? There’s a big difference there and I’m not sure which point were you trying to make.

    • The social issues are side issues with heavy symbolic meaning. The “suicide” part refers mostly to her wrongheaded economic policies.

      • I’m trying to understand the whole situation. Do you feel she is going to be more radical this time than in her last presidency? Or do you feel the decisions she made last time, if continued, can lead to said “suicide”?

      • Thanks for the clarification!

        We agree with the economics, then. I feel that socially Chile still has a lot to figure out, assume, accept, talk about and (hopefully) change, without it meaning that they’ll go the way our country (or the others you mention) has gone, if they keep their economic policies sound and sane.

  6. It seems you’ve completely forgotten that Bachelet already ran the country for 4 years, sticking to free market dogma, not rocking the boat, why would you think now will be different? It’s always been the other way around (rock the boat first time, then come back as a “pragmatic leftist”). Like CAP, or Alan Garcia.

    I’d says it’s safer to say that the 40% who didn’t vote (or the percentage of that which is greater than average abstention for Chilean elections) is to the left of Bachelet, not to the right. As much as these terms mean anything except in the heads of radicals from either side.

    I just really don’t get it, you think she’s gonna pull a constituent assembly wiping out all that is good and try to govern for 20 years? Start nationalizing everything? Chile already owns its copper mines and other important enterprises. I think she’s gonna go for what is obviously needed: dramatic reduction in cost of education, and dramatic increase in health care. No need to rock the macro boat for that, or join ALBA and start withdrawing from Asia-Pacific cooperation group or nothing. It seems like the “right” in Chile, as represented by your rather exaggerated commie-fear-mongering, is simply unwilling to even provide basic health care and education to the people. In that respect, I would think, and hope, that the great majority of Chileans will support her rather moderate platform, and will also keep their growing and stable economy.

    • Now, if she fails to do this, on her own shortcomings, or due to blockage from Congress, and other institutions, where apparently this far out “right-wing” or “conservative” of yours is shared by many of the new legislators, THEN, those who didn’t vote because of lack of faith in the possibility of change for Chileans in need, those who did vote Bachelet or her communist party allies, may be likely to, in the future, decide that this system really is worth fuck all, and that would be bad for everyone.

    • I think further analisys is in order before the abstention rate is given meaning.

      Chile used to have an opt-in electoral registry where voting was mandatory for anyone who registered, but lots of people specially young people hadn’t registered, I don’t think this was tallied as abstention at all.

      Now they autoregister every Chilean over 18 and voting has become optional. Less compulsion to vote could probably lead to a lower turnout; and registering people who’ve never been interested in elections as voters without any indication that their attitude has changed could probably lead to a higher abstention rate even if turnout remains constant. If we combine these two variables, that 45% abstention rate becomes less suspect.

      I’d like to see how does the absolute turnout compare to previous elections and also the demographics of abstention (if younger voters’ participation changed, if older voters’ participation changed, etc).

  7. Saludos, aqui un votante chileno. Primero, pido disculpas por el quiebre del idioma, pero me resulta más fácil explicar un poco las cosas en español.

    Ahora que estan los resultados relativamente claro, y con algunas de las entrevistas en los canales estas noche, quedaron muchos temas claros en esta elección:

    – Aún cuando Bachelet gano, su coalición (Nueva Mayoría) no logro dos importantes puntos: Que ganara en primera vuelta y que obtuviera una mayoría clara en el Congreso Nacional. De ambas la segunda es más importante debido a que obligará a negociar con la derecha las reformas constitucionales debido a las supermayorías establecidas.

    – Si hay perdedores, son la Democracia Cristiana (en la Nueva Mayoría) y en la UDI (en la Alianza por Chile), y en realidad es bueno, porque ambos partidos en sus alianzas impedian muchas veces cambios más importantes y negociaciones entre ambos bloques. Especialmente en la UDI, tanto por ser el partido más de derecha que su compañero Renovación Nacional, como por su caracter obstruccionista.

    Ahora acerca de “Chileans don’t really want radical change, and this election showed it.” no es realmente cierto, ya que el sistema Binominal produce grandes distorsiones que vuelven al Congreso más conservador que lo que los electores apoyan. Como ejemplo, en una de las elecciones en el distrito 30, la candidata por el pacto “Si tu quieres, Chile cambia” Marisela Santibañez aún siendo la primera mayoría perdio la elección debido a que su lista quedo en tercer lugar respecto de la Nueva Mayoría y la Alianza por Chile.


    El sistema binominal, al forzar a una lista a tener que doblar el número de votos de la siguiente para poder obtener los dos escaños por distrito o circunscripción genera una distorsión que gran parte de las veces favorece a la Alianza por Chile.

    “She could convince herself that, doggone it, Chileans like her, they really like her, so she’s going to do what she feels is right, and damn the torpedoes. Higher taxes! Gay marriage! Abortion! State-owned enterprises! Do away with the pension funds, private health insurers, and private education! Out goes the Constitution! Off with all of their heads!” tampoco es muy radical, dado que de los 9 candidatos (6 de izquierda, 2 de derecha, 1 de centro) solo la de la Alianza por Chile (Evelyn Matthei) se oponia a lo que señalas. Eso sin contar que en las mismas primarias fue la misma historia: Todos los candidatos de la Nueva Mayoría compartian gran parte de lo anterior, salvo el de la Democracia Cristiana en temas valoricos.

    Si uno mira las encuestas acá, la gente quiere una discusión sobre aborto, matrimonio homosexual, participación del estado en las empresas, despenalización de la marihuana, cambios en el sistema de pensiones, salud y educación, y cambios en la constitución y esta a favor de gran parte de esos. El problema es que la Alianza por Chile (especialmente el sector máS conservador de la UDI y RN) ha utilizado todos los artilugios del sistema (supermayorías para cambios constitucionales y el binominal) para bloquear cualquier cambio importante hasta el punto de que sea necesario hacer protestas o marchas para que las cosas empiecen a tener otro matiz.

    Eso quedo bien claro en esta elección, dado que si Bachelet tuviera un problema de sintonía con la gente, no hubiera ni ella sacado un algo más de un 46% de la votación ni Evelyn Matthei algo más de un 25%.

    “But Chileans do not want to go hard left, and Bachelet would be a fool to think otherwise.” Eso mismo se dijo de ella en la elección anterior, hasta cuando puso a un independiente de centro como Andrés Velasco como Ministro de Hacienda. Al final, la mitad de las decisiones que toma un presidente en su mandato dependen de la ideología de su Ministro de Hacienda (y del Director de Prespuestos), el verdadero vicepresidente; y por muy de izquierda que ande Bachelet en sus discursos al final enfriara a su gobierno con un ministro moderado y liberal.

    Y que conste que apoye en la elección anterior al actual presidente y candidatos de la derecha en todo nivel porque creía que habría un gobierno más centrado y moderno, pero (como muchos) vote por otro candidato porque ya no es posible apoyar a una coalición (a excepción de algunos pocos parlamentario y el presidente Piñera) que todavía sigue siendo pinochetista, anclada en los 80, en un país de fantasía en las AFPs e ISAPREs son geniales y el sistema de educación solo requiere cambios menores, que cree que subir cualquier impuesto aunque sea un poco es acercanos a Cuba, y que es capaz de incluso no apoyar al gobierno al momento de hacer reformas.

    Este gobierno tuvo que haber sido un punto de partida a una nueva derecha más liberal y cercana a la realidad en vez de que la UDI actue como la rama local del Tea Party haciendonos creer que existe un Chile más perfecto y feliz que el de la realidad.

    Y la única manera que la derecha entiende que debe cambiar de una vez por todas es que pierda en la segunda vuelta.

  8. One of the things that I have been reading about my Chilean friends is the great abstentionism…which I am saying start worry…it seems that people is uttermost discontent with the candidates…and of course the 4 “students starts”that got into they curul….I just advised them…watch out for that I am not going to vote because is the same shite….I am a broken record…I said well look in venezuela’s mirror and the antipartie’s agenda…

  9. I think it’s a tragedy where Hispanic countries are stuck at. The Spanish PP hasn’t been able to distance itself from Franquismo. Time after time one sees lots of their politicians making “honours” (with flags and all) to Francisco Franco. One sees them unable to make cuts to the church institutions but willing to leave public education – most importantly, the primary and secondary levels- devoid of financial support that is considered normal not just in such countries as Germany or Sweden, but in Texas, USA, of all places (books for kids).

    Does Camila debate only with either old guys who are afraid of grilling her less they be considered old dinosaurs with no manners and young Pinochetistas? It would have been nice if someone with a solid knowledge of communism and moderate position would have been able to debate with her and ask very clearly what steps she would take for achieving her wish list and how her communism can be a democracy if it will imply that there is no turn-back because a communist system does not allow pluralism.
    I have only seen a couple of videos with Camila and someone else but every time it has been the same: either an old man who can only say 1 words for each 20 she says or a guy who seems to be taken out of the Escuela Pinochet.

    Last week I was at the European Parliament with 120 other Venezuelans. We could talk to some of the eurodeputies there. The guys from the PP were the same shit as our Latin American right: as right as it goes, they seem to have been taken out of some conservative religious branch. Another Venezuelan asked him what else we could do to make our interests be heard at the EU. The PP guy said: well, as good Catholics, you the opposition should know the 10 commandments and comply with them. As you know….and then he started to explain in detail what those commandments were. It was surreal.

    I am a practising Christian (albeit not a Catholic) but I found the guy was completely out of touch
    and completely on the wrong path. If we are talking about a whole movement, you cannot be mixing religion with politics. You need a common ground. You need a secular ground. We are not in the Middle Ages.

    I compare that with what is happening in Germany and other countries in the area…even the very conservative German CDU seems like a model of compromise and connection with the modern population. I can’t believe I am writing this, but in comparison with what we have in our Spanish-speaking countries, they are.

    Funny: both in Texas (I know, a state, not a country, but a rather conservative one) and in the CDU-dominated Germany you don’t see any problem with allocating money for books for children at primary and secondary. The right in Spain and in Latin America? They prefer to allocate money first to the Catholic church, to the military and the like. Amazing.

    And that’s how the populist social democrats don’t evolve into something else and they end up making coalitions with the far, undemocratic extreme left until things implode yet again.

    • That is one of the main problems with the Latin American Right. The hard stance on social issues. The antipathy towards the separation of the church and state. The homophobia. In Latin America gay marriage is a “hard left” subject as if not legal in the US, Canada and the UK and most of western Europe. The same with abortion. I’m not making a moral judgment on this subject (Although for the record I do support them) but the fact that in Latin America they are still perceived as part of the extreme left agenda shows you how far behind we are in many issues with the rest of the world.

    • Completely agree.

      My hert cringes everytime I read about States in the US where they want to ban the teaching of evolution, or when right wing parties in the US or Europe propose laws with the obvious intent to make things harder for brown people (gypsies, african refugees, muslims and latinamericans in Europe, black people and latinos in the US). Or when left parties praise Castro, Chavez or other nutjobs/tyrants.

      In Latin America, the left can’t seem to grow enough to denounce the Castros (the last full on dictatorship in our hemisphere). The right can’t seem to grow enough to denounce past military dictatoriships and have a reasoned debate on anything the Church frowns upon like on equal marriage, adoption by gay couples; or anything the US frowns upon like drug legalization, copyright reform, patent reform, etc.

      I think a functional democracy needs a sane non-communist non-castrist left party (or coalition), maybe social democrats who renounced marxism or a green party.

      And it needs a sane non-militarist non-racist non-teocracist right party (or coalition), maybe classic liberals or christian democrats without with a very light touch on the christian side.

      It also needs these two sides to be able to reach very wide agreements in key matters. So that a change in governement isn’t a traumatic experience. After all, the Constitution and laws should be seen as appropiate by vast majorities of the population, it’s not healthy for a democracy to have 51% percent of the people imposing things that 49% think is bullshit, only to do the same once the tables turn. We need our laws to reflect our agreements not our differences.

    • I think different. THEY DO GRILL, KEPLER. If with old man you mean the Fernando Paulsen, Fernando Villegas and Tomas Mosciatti, for me those are the “real men” with experience under a dictatorship, we unfortunatedly don’t have no more in this country. The men, not the system 😉 . This might be sentialism from a different angle, but they are by any means on par with their capabilities as analyst and interviewers.
      When confronted with issues specific to comunism, Camila Vallejo knows to defend herself with the old communist pattern of: “Chile is in different stage of development. You can’t compare. It makes no sense to introduce cuban systems and Chile”. Sarah Wagenknecht uses the same line of argumentation and its the end of the discussion, no matter if it takes place in a chilean or a german TV studio. No one can cope with that argument, can you?
      You often found nice words about german journalists, but at least I can’t find any qualitative difference to for example Tolerancia Zero, parts of Mentiras Verdaderas, some Rayen Araya interviews or Tomas Mosciatti and Patricio Navia column. Heck probably I shouldn’t say, but somehow I find left-radical web activist Ariel Zuniga often brilliant as an analyst, though I don’t agree with some of his conclusions. There are much more.

      I’ am getting uncomfortable with the Latin American left, when they move onto their quest for the “real” expression of the essence of el pueblo and some such. Chavismo is soaked with that. In Chile Gabriel Salazar seems to be very much drawn to that fetich. Camila Vallejo on the contrary simply doesn’t talk much about that. She seems to be occupied a lot in the problem space – and there are a lot social problems – and not over the rainbow in some magical solution space of what I consider as a proto-fascist route of thinking.

    • “the PP guy said: well, as good Catholics, you the opposition should know the 10 commandments and comply with them.” Really, a politician? I guess he doesn’t have a lover, etc,etc…Did get your DeLorean and get back to the future…I would have just laugh…I cannot believe that the solution for a corrupt country is the “10 commandments” …I a sorry But I Have never went to a catholic institution ever!!!

  10. You forget one important detail: There’s likely no point of comparison between Venezuela 1988 and Chile 2013. Or between CAP and Bachelet.

    CAP was (partly thanks, no thanks to “policies” instituted by him and others in the ’70s) receiving an unsustainable country. He ran on a platform that offered a continuation of such policies which we call petropopulism. And then (was forced?) to turn them off and cause shock.

    Now, where does Bachelet’s coming administration even begin to compare to that? She might have projects that are too radical for some people in Chile, but I think they won’t shock Chileans, or produce social explosions.

    The only similarity: They are winning the election?

    • That’s right. Perhaps there is also another important difference. In spite of its limitations, those debates I have seen on Chilean TV are much more than what I have ever seen on Venezuelan media. The mere fact that several key actors are sitting together more than once and talking about their different views in real life…that’s completely amazing for a Venezuelan.

      Those debates are something Chileans should not abandon after election time but keep promoting

      • Well, I was thinking about more obviously striking differences. A petrostate in crisis, with a wholly distorted economy (in which most people don’t pay taxes) can’t compare to Chile, even under Allende!

        It’s also probable that Bachelet will not have to contend with a coup d’etat or two against her.

      • Both countries were once called “Nueva Extremadura” (differences: our ancestors did think they were arriving to El Dorado whereas I don’t think proto-Chileans did, Chileans may still have Extremadura, but we definitely have Extremaduro),
        Both countries saw Andrés Bello (differences: Bello emigrated from Venezuela and
        most Venezuelans don’t remember him, Bello immigrated to Chile and most Chileans know who he was)

        • Andrés Bello is one of my pet peeves with Venezuelan education: we are taught he’s important but not why. For us, he’s mainly teenage Bolívar’s teacher in some areas, also drafted a grammar and wrote some stuff. But he was a civilian statesman like few at the time and left a very deep mark in Chile

  11. Chile is the LA country with the strongest macroeconomic stability over the longest period in the sub-continent. Chile uses a daily index unchanged from 1967. It has the strongest capital market in South America. I do not see any of that changing in the foreseeable future.

    • yes and no…there is economic policy, and other stuff…now if you want black and white…I don’t know…I cannot see economy without looking at policy, but that is me

  12. pucha…

    What you mean with higher taxes? Don’t you think that the highly regressive tax system of Chile is in urgent need of reform? Companies pay nearly no taxes, because they can be defered to infinity with this FUT nonsense. Or at least require interest payments as even Andrés Velasco proposed. They said, its for SMB, but then I hear that 98% of the current FUT fonds belong to Falabella, Cencosud and some such.
    I would really love to have FUT for my own very small it consulting business. Last week I asked a customer to postpone their payments to next year, so this income tax thingie would get “easier” this year. I got a very angry answer from accountants department, which in the end made me proud of my society: “You are asking us to support you in your criminal tax exemption?” .

    The only state owned enterprise Bachelet mentioned was AFP estatal. As a german freelancer I am in a similar capital cover system like chilean AFP. How on earth I pay charges of 2% a year and get entitlement to interesting income tax deduction, whereas you pay more than 20%, in big part due to their high advertising budgets.

    You know, that there are owners of universities “sin fines de lucro” that make profits of 20% a year or more AND spend great part of their budgets in advertising, which do not exist in a system run by the state. This is risk-free, highly rentable business mostly for politicians around a sacred issue like the will to improve ones life by education. Do that in Europe, and you not only would have to leave office, which they don’t do in Chile. You would have to leave the country.

    There is so much more. Companies that regularly transgress against labor legislation, because the fines are ridiculous. Massively underfunded public health. Very odd law against labour unions. Inhumane prisons. To reform all this, you need money. The revenues of a state are generated by taxes.

    Development for the greatest part possible of a society does not only come from entrepeneurs, but also by a good provision of public intangible assets like a good education system, health care, social assistance in case of temporarily hard times, a justice system that protects anybody. And I would bet that the Boric, Jackson, Cariola and Vallejo will put their energy in this field. There is a lot of a work to do.
    A lot of european politician had a high output of marxist rhetorics during certain times in their lifes, often not the worst. Our own still marxist follower of the state-party of the GDR, die LINKE, certainly influences our politics and probably will enter a ruling coalition one day in the future. I certainly had my problems swallowing that pill, but I came to actually like Dietmar Bartsch.
    Chile simply isn’t that poor no more with its nearly 20.000 $ GDP PPP per person.
    Are there any comparision studies of their education, health care, social assistance systems with that of Poland, an european country with a similar level of income? Poland is certainly not Germany, but my bets are that this would turn out pretty bad for Chile.

    I am really tired of hearing the term “crecimiento estadistico”, which got so viral in chilean debate. That means awesome aggregated macroeconomic figures, that does not produce the corespondent improvements in the living conditions for 80% of the population. Probably at this point 50% of the growth, but “crecimiento de verdad” would create a happier society.

    Regarding creative use of industrial policy, I’ve read: Piniera had an agency for the purpose, which got used to produce some reports about the wonders of investigation and science, which probably were well written, but there was a complete lack of any concrete proposal to be turned into action. Piniera got that in his last year. He asked them to offer something concrete, they were not able to deliver, Piniera shortened their budget big time. Much too late.
    There were wasted chances in this Government of high rates of growth and protest. Maybe it was also yet kind of too alien for their “not-picking-up-winners” 80ties mindset to really follow good old infant industry argument more determinendly.

    I don’t think there is much risk involved. If the Nueva Mayoria goes too much too fast, this would only make the alianza attractive for Christian Democrats and Andrés Velasco.
    Also I see Bachelet as very much on the sceptic, reflective and cautious side, very much like Merkel. Those woman with intense marxist training in their youth don’t discuss stuff, surround themselves with a small group of probably well chosen advisers, in both cases not few from big business (Lucsic). They think about satisfying different groups, change politics fast when it doesn’t work in practice. Also at least in my country heads of state tend to get better in their second term.

    • Thanks for your input, Lemmy Caution.
      I fully support the need for full state-financed (yes, tax financed) education.
      Those who don’t and keep just talking about “vouchers” or more private “competition” usually got their education thanks to wealthy parents paying private schools or semi private school “con los curitas”.

      I also agree the Linke, which I dislike, has a place to contribute, basically because it has done a thorough analysis of how some very powerful groups are actually getting a free pass when they shouldn’t.

      • Second time I notice your disagreement towards vouchers. Could you explain a little more? Would you have a fully state run, state funded education system with public employee teachers?

        I worry that fully state run education is wasteful due to over-administration (too few people doing the work and a bunch of dead weight administrators, reposeros, political hires, and political overseers keeping it crappy. I also worry about political hiring of teachers resulting in a politically biased education. Teacher unions obstructing teacher perfomance reviews also worry me (think American teacher union or Latin american teacher unions).

        I would prefer a stricly regulated privately run education, where the education ministry sets standards (minimal sylabus, maximum class size, cafeteria, requirements to get a degree, etc) and regional or local offices enforce those standards. That would eliminate the government incentives to hide education deficiencies and turn it into an incentive to fiscalizar.

        I would also like it to become something akin to single payer healthcare. The state regulates costs, gets progressive taxes in and pays a rate per pupil enough to pay teachers, other staff and other costs. Education would become means-blind. If a school and a parent both agree the kid can study there, money is no issue. If a school is crappy, parents would look for other options, so they would get less pupils, and thus less money while being flagged in the reviews by local and regional inspectors.

        • Look here:


          I live in Belgium and I have discussed and gone through the curricula with friends of Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Canada.
          Germany has the most unequal system of those because there is a very early division.
          In any case: I believe the basis for rather just societies in those countries is that everybody gets the opportunity of decent state (yeah TAX) funded education.

          There are private schools here as well and they can charge all they want. Still, unless you are very thick and rich, you don’t need to go there to get decent basic education.

          There are ways of promoting accountability and these countries have shown it is possible.

          I believe the first thing one needs to do is to inform the People that the government will make every cent visible: how many $ are used per worker, how many cleaners, teachers each school has per pupil, how that compares to the rest of the world.

          • Kepler, what do you think about a public, tax funded, but not completely free higher education system? Let me explain.

            The university needs money to function, that money has to come from somewhere, private universities get it from tuitions, public gets it from the state, but on this system Im talking about, the university has a cost, yes, even public ones. Then, the state grants scholarships with funds that may come from taxes, with varying degrees of coverage, and the amount finally paid by the student is a function of the socio-economic conditions of the students family group minus the amount of the scholarships coverage.

            The amount of the coverage is subject to the students socio-economic conditions as well as its academic performance, should the student not comply with the academic requirements to keep the scholarship, it still has the option to keep studying on the university but now it has to pay its costs in full from its own pocket. Duro pero justo.


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