The election of young Boric, leader of the 2011 student protests in Chile, as president, demonstrated how some analysts here in Brazil, who call themselves centered, or even “impartial”, seem not to support democracy. They seem to confuse democracy with a kind of central dictatorship. They discussed the Chilean elections putting, on one side, a defender of Pinochet, and on the other, a defender of “communist dictatorships”, as opposite poles, or even as equals. As if Chile had failed, in democratic terms, by having to choose between two extremes. As if, in a Democracy, only the center could win. If the choice is between a communist, or an “extreme capitalist”, there is no democracy for them. There is really no impartiality in the universe of thought…
However, even if we accept the premise, democracy does demand that this space exist in which everyone participates. Proposals, no matter how absurd, are on the table. That the left or the right win the elections and assume more conservative and progressive agendas is precisely the democratic apparatus working. This was evident in the elections: the communist candidate, who, in my view, acts more in the field of social democracy, having made an alliance with the communist party for a broad front against the far right, clearly said he condemns dictatorships, citing Cuba. That he wanted to fight for social equality without breaking liberal democracy and the institutionality of the Republic. The opposing candidate, nostalgic for the Pinochet regime, greeted the winner in a democratic manner. He knows there is nothing to fear. We no longer live in the era of Allende, who understood democracy as socialism. The revolutionary processes of the fifties and sixties lost strength. Even Social Democracy, when it appears in the field of the left, has enormous difficulty in implementing social changes, however small.
It seems to me that in order to make the Chilean Constitution gain some character of producing a welfare state, there is a long way to go. And this president will have to have a redoubled capacity for argumentation and negotiation, something he has already shown in the campaign: in the second round he was not only able to reorganize a broad front to defeat the right, but his own project.
Precisely for this reason, I think Boric has everything to govern Chile. The campaign was amazing. It was tight, with a defeat, because, in the first round, it won the right. But he knew how to seek energy. And he did it in his roots. Boric comes from Patagonia, one of the first places in the world where climate issues gained momentum and made themselves felt. Southern Latin America appears as a place where dangerous climate problems have been taking their toll for some time. He articulated himself during the campaign, putting the theme of the climate as a central point. This, for a country like Chile, which does not have much territory, and which faces difficulties with agriculture, is fundamental.
Chile is a place where old traditions of discussion have not been lost. The constitution has not changed since the dictatorship. Even over democracy, and over left-wing governments, it prevailed. This has blocked conditions for an improvement in life for many and has made the country face recently the cry of a generation that grew old under a constitution that gave them no rights. That’s what made people take to the streets demanding a constituent, without fear of facing the past. And that’s what made these people elect Boric.
Of course, there are those who argue for participatory democracy to complement liberal representative democracy. Of course, there are also those who argue in fraying democracy to transform it into anarcho-capitalism. Of course there are many other projects. Even the dispute for the maintenance of liberal democracy or its rupture is also Democracy. After all, there is not only liberal democracy. Now, he will govern in the context of drafting a constituent assembly. It’s time to fight for the bare minimum of building a welfare state. Chile has a lot to conquer. And so, so do we.