Taking a look at Chile’s government and institutions it gives the idea that the average person is represented. Chilean people have a history of strong political ties and many private associations and organizations. This has been helpful in taking care that many interests and needs are expressed within the government. Perhaps even more helpful is the development of many different political parties, whom, for the most part represent many of these organizations and associations in the government. In order to evaluate these institutions a closer look must be taken at each to understand fully the amount of organization that is in place. In the 1990’s Chile had a strong, ideological based multiparty system with a clear division between the parties of the right, center, and left.Order now
Traditionally the parties have national in scope penetrating into other more remote regions. Party affiliation had been had served as the organizing concept in many leadership contests in universities and private associations, such as labor unions and professional associations. Political tendencies are passed from generation to generation and constitute an important part of an individual’s identity. By the middle of the twentieth century, each of Chile’s political tendencies represented one-third of the electorate. The left was dominated by the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista) and the Communist Party of Chile (Partido Communista de Chile), the right by the Liberal Party (PartidoLiberal) and the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador), and the center by the anticlerical Radical Party (Partido Radical) which was replaced as Chile’s dominant party by the Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristiano) in the 1960s.
The Communist Party of Chile (PPCh) is the oldest and largest communist party in Latin America and one of the most important in the West. Tracing it’s origins to 1912, the party was officially founded in1922 as the successor to the Socialist Workers’ Party. It achieved congressional representation shortly thereafter and played a leading role in the development of the Chilean labor movement. Concern over the party’s success at building a strong electoral base, combined with the onset of the Cold War, led to its being outlawed in 1948, a status it had to endure for almost a decade. However by midcentury it had become a genuine political subculture with its own symbols and organizations and the support of prominent artists and intellectuals. The PPCh’s strong stand against registration of voters and participation in elections alienated many of its own supporters and long-time militants who understood that most of the citizens supported a peaceful return to democracy.
The dramatic failure of the PCCh’s strategy seriously undermined its credibility and contributed to the growing withdrawal from its ranks. The party was also hurt by the vast structural changes in Chilean society, the decline of traditional manufacturing and extractive industries and the weakening of the labor movement in particular. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its East European allies represented the final blow. The Socialist Party (PS), formally organized in 1933, had its origins in the incipiant labor movement and working-class parties of the earlier twentieth century.
The Socialist Party was far more mixed than the PCCh, drawing support from the blue-collar workers a well as intellectuals and members of the middle-class. Throughout most of its history, the Socialist Party suffered from a large number of factions. Resulting from rivalries and fundamental disagreements between leaders advocating revolution and those willing to work within the system. The Socialist Party’s greatest moment was the election of Salvador Allende to the presidency in 1970. Allende represented the moderate wing of a party that had veered sharply to the left. The Socialist Party’s radical orientation contributed to continuous political tension as the president and the PCCh argues for a more gradual approach to change and the Socialists sought to press for immediate conquests for the middle class.
Prior to the 1988 election, the Socialists launched the Party for Democracy (Partido por la Democracia–PPD) in an effort to provide a broad base of opposition to Pinochet. Led by Lagos, an economist and former university administrator, the PPD was supposed to be an instrumental party that would disappear after the defeat of Pinochet. But the party’s success in capturing the imagination of many Chileans led Socialist and PPD leaders to keep the party label for the subsequent congressional and municipal elections, working jointly with the Christian Democrats in structuring national lists of candidates. The success of the PPD soon created a serious dilemma for the Socialist Party, which managed to reunite its principal factions– the relatively conservative Socialist Party-Almeyda, the moderate Socialist Party-N??ez renewalists, and the left-wing Unitary Socialists–at the Social Party congress in December 1990. Previously an instrument of the Socialists, the PPD became a party in its own right, even though many Socialists had dual membership. Although embracing social democratic ideals, PPD leaders appeared more willing to press ahead on other unresolved social issues such as divorce and women’s rights, staking out a distinct position as a center-left secular force in Chilean society capable of challenging the Christian Democrats as well as the right on a series of critical issues.
As the PPD grew, leaders of the Socialist Party insisted on abolishing dual membership for fear of losing their capacity to enlarge the appeal of the Socialist Party beyond its traditional constituency. By 1993 both parties, working together in a somewhat tense relationship, had comparable levels of popular support in opinion. The Christian Democratic Party (PDC), was formally established in 1957. It adopted its present name after uniting with several other centrist groups.
It elected Frei to the Senate while capturing fourteen seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The party polled 20 percent of the vote in the presidential race in 1958, with Frei as standard-bearer. In 1964, with the support of the right, which feared the election of Allende, Frei was elected president on a platform proclaiming a third way between Marxism and capitalism, a form of communitarian socialism of cooperatives and self-managed worker enterprise. In the aftermath of the military regime, the PDC emerged as Chile’s largest party, with the support of about 35 percent of the electorate. The PDC had been divided internally by a series of ideo;ogical, generational, and factional rivalries. The PDC, however, retained a commitment to social justices while embracing the fre-market policies instituted by the military government.
Although the Aylwin administration was a coalition government, the PDC secured ten of twenty cabinet seats. In the 1989 elections, the Christian Democrats also obtained the largest number of congressional seats, with fourteen in the Senate and thirty-eight in the Chamber of Deputies. In October 1991, in a major challenge to President Aylwin and the traditional leadership of the party, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle was elected PDC president, placing him in a privileged position to run for president as the candidate of the CPD. Another party that could be classified as centrist was the Radical Party, whose political importance outweighed its electoral presence. The Radical Party owed its survival as a political force to the binomial electoral law inherited from the military government and the desire of the Christian Democrats to use the Radical Party as a foil against the left.
It was to the Christian Democrats’ advantage to provide relatively more space to the Radicals on the joint lists than to their stronger PPD partners. The Radicals succeeded in electing two senators and five deputies in 1989 and were allotted two out of twenty cabinet ministers, despite polls reporting that they had less than 2 percent support nationally. It remained to be seen if, over the long run, the Radical Party could compete with Chile’s other major parties, particularly the PPD, which had moved closest to the Radical Party’s traditional position on the political spectrum. In 1965, following the dramatic rise of the Christian Democrats, primarily at their expense, Chile’s two traditional right-wing parties, the Liberal Party and Conservative Party, merged into the National Party (Partido Nacional–PN). Their traditional disagreements over issues such as the proper role of the Roman Catholic Church in society paled by comparison with the challenge posed by the left to private property and Chile’s hierarchical social order. The new party, energized by the presidential candidacy of Jorge Alessandri in 1970, helped the right regain some of its lost electoral ground.
The National Party won 21. 1 percent of the vote in the 1973 congressional elections, the last before the coup. The National Party was at the forefront of the opposition to the Allende government, working closely with elements of the business community. National Party leaders welcomed the coup and, unlike the Christian Democrats, were content to accept the military authorities’ injunction that parties go into recess. Until 1984 the National Party remained failing, with most of the party leaders concerning themselves with private pursuits or an occasional embassy post. With Pinochet’s defeat, the National Renewal party’s prestige rose considerably.
In the aftermath of the plebiscite, National Renewal worked closely with the other opposition parties to propose far-reaching amendments to the constitution. The National Renewal party, however, could not impose its own party president, having to concede the presidential candidacy of the right to the UDI’s B?chi. After the 1989 congressional race, the National Renewal party emerged as the dominant party of the right, benefiting strongly from the electoral law and electing six senators and twenty-nine deputies. Its strength in the Senate meant that the Aylwin government had to compromise with the National Renewal party to gain support for key legislative and constitutional measures.
The National Renewal party saw much of its support wane in the wake of party scandals involving its most promising presidential candidates. While the RN drew substantial support from rural areas and traditional small businessmen, the UDI appealed to new entrepreneurial elites and middle sectors in Chile’s rapidly growing modern sector. The UDI also made inroads in low-income neighborhoods with special programs appealing to the poor, a legacy of the Pinochet regime’s urban policy. The assassination of UDI founder Senator Jaime Guzm?n Err?zuriz on April 1, 1991, was a serious blow, depriving the party of its strongest leader. Chileans have a remarkable facility for forming organizations and associations. In contrast to North Americans, however, Chileans usually take a formal approach to creating organizations.
In addition to electing a president, a treasurer, a secretary, and perhaps a few officers, they prefer to discuss and approve a statement of purpose and some statutes. This is a ritual even for organizations that need not register legally, obtaining what is called a juridical personality that will enable them to open bank accounts and to buy and sell properties. Observers of Chilean society are rapidly struck by the density of its organizational life and the relatively high degree of continuity of its organizations and associations In any Chilean community of appreciable size can be found sports clubs, mothers’ clubs, neighborhood associations, parent centers linked to schools, church-related organizations, youth groups, and cultural clubs, as well as Masonic lodges and Rotary and Lions’ clubs. Virtually all of the nation’s fire fighters are volunteers, with the exception of members of a few fire departments in the largest cities. Government statistics greatly understate the number of community organizations because they refer mainly to those having some contact with one or another state office.
According to the official estimate for 1991, there were about 22,000 such organizations, the main ones being sports clubs neighborhood councils, mothers’ clubs, and parent centers. Government publications do not report membership figures for these organizations. Most of the important urban areas in Chile also include a broad sample of the local chapters of a wide variety of occupational associations. These include labor unions and federations, public employee and health worker organizations, business and employers’ associations, and professional societies of teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, dentists, nurses, social workers, and other occupational groups.
Membership in labor unions, which declined significantly under the military government, has been growing rapidly since the late 1980s, a change directly related to the transition to democracy. Affiliation with organizations recognized as unions in labor legislation was officially estimated in 1990 at 606,800, a 20 percent increase over 1989. That figure did not include individuals affiliated with public employee associations (including health workers). But these two groups usually have been closely tied to the labor movement through the national confederations of labor. Thus, about 19 percent of a total labor force of 4,459,600 was linked to unions or union-like associations in 1990.
With the continuing increases in union affiliations, which are especially significant in rural areas, a conservative estimate is that the unionized population (in legal as well as de facto organizations) stood in 1992 at between 22 percent and 24 percent of the labor force. The most important union confederation, which encompasses the great majority of the nation’s unions and union-like organizations, is the United Labor Federation (Central ?nica de Trabajadores–CUT). CUT is the heir to a line of top labor confederations that can be traced back through various reorganizations and name changes to at least 1936, and perhaps to 1917. There are numerous business and employer associations in Chile.
They collectively claim to speak for about 540,000 proprietors of businesses of all sizes. The most important business organization, the Business and Production Confederation, encompasses some of the very oldest ongoing associations in Chile: the National Agricultural Association, founded in 1838, groups the most important agricultural enterprises, includes large wholesale and retail commercial enterprises; the National Association of Mining, founded in 1883, affiliates the main private mining companies; the Industrial Development Association, founded in 1883, organizes the principal manufacturing industries; the Association of Banks and Financial Institutions, founded in 1943, is the main banking-industry group; and the Chilean Construction Board, founded in 1951, organizes construction companies. Another important confederation of business groups is the Council of Production, Transport, and Commerce. In contrast to Coproco, this organization groups primarily medium-sized to small businesses, including many self-employed individuals who do not hire nonfamily members on a regular basis.
Its main components are the Trade Union Confederation of Business Retailers and Small Industry of Chile, founded in 1938, and the Confederation of Truck Owners of Chile, founded in 1953. Professional societies are also well established. The largest ones, aside from the teachers’ organization noted previously, are those for lawyers, physicians, and engineers. Affiliation figures for most of the more than thirty professional societies were unavailable, but there are at least 100,000 members in such associations aside from teachers. If these figures are added to those for membership in business groups and unions, it appears that about a third of the labor force is involved in occupationally based associations.
The organized groups of Chilean society have long played an important role in the nation’s political life. The elections in some of them–for example, in major labor federations, among university students, or in the principal professional societies– usually have been examined carefully for clues to the strength of the various national political parties. Most of the nation’s university and professional institute students belong to student federations. The various associations also make their views known to state or congressional officials when issues of policy that affect them are debated. Some associations traditionally have been identified with particular political parties. This was the case, to a greater or lesser extent, with Masons, fire fighters, teachers’ federations, and the Radical Party; union confederations and the parties of the left; employer associations and the parties of the right; the Roman Catholic Church, as well as its related organizations with the Conservative Party; and, in recent decades, the Christian Democratic Party.
Many of the most militant party members have also been active in social organizations. In addition, party headquarters in local communities often have served as meeting places for all kinds of activities. The Radical clubs of small towns in the central south are especially active, often sponsoring sports clubs as well as the formation of fire departments. Social organizations did not fare well under the military government. Those that were perceived to be linked, however loosely, to the parties of the left were subjected to sometimes severe repressive measures. This was particularly the case with labor unions, whose activities were suspended for more than six years.
They were only permitted to reorganize under new legislation beginning in 1979. Moreover, most associations, including those of business groups, were hardly ever consulted on policy matters, and, in the absence of normal democratic channels for exerting influence, they found their opinions and petitions falling on deaf ears. Eventually, the most prominent social organizations joined in voicing their discontent with the military government through what was called the Assembly of Civility (Asamblea de la Civilidad), and their efforts contributed to the defeat of President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1973-90) in the 1988 plebiscite. The only organizations that thrived under the military government were the women’s aid and mothers’ clubs, which were supported by government largesse and headed at the national level by Pinochet’s wife, Luc?a Hiriart. With the return to democracy, social organizations recovered the ability to pressure Congress and the national government.
The new government opted for explicit solicitation of the opinions of important interest associations on some of the policies it was considering. It also fostered negotiations between top labor and business leaders over issues such as labor law reforms, minimum wage and pension levels, and overall wage increases for public employees. These negotiations led to several national agreements between state officials and business and labor leaders, thereby inaugurating a new form of top-level bargaining previously unknown in Chile. Political Issues