Chile Political Parties And Organizations 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. 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-Nez 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 oppos …