Sunday, 18 October 2009

Grow Up

Marco Enríquez-Ominami has certainly shaken things up. In the last couple of weeks, I have spoken to people involved in each of the three major presidential campaigns, and each one is convinced they stand a good chance of winning. What this tells us is that nobody knows what's going to happen. At least not yet. We wait for CEP.

But if MEO wants to take the next step, he really does have to grow up. He will have to devise a strategy which will allow him to go from thing-shaker to possible president. Today, he is a possible president becuase of what he represents, not because of what he stands for. Some will say that's just how Michelle Bachelet won four years ago, but everyone knew that she stood for policy continuity in general.

Today's Mercurio has a list of MEO's weak points. Most, like the fact that he has tried drugs, are probably irrelevant. But two are not, and must be changed.

The first is his closeness to the radical left. If one examines his actualy policy proposals, inasmuch as they exist, he does not have a radical agenda. But it sounds like he thinks it's cool to support Evo and Hugo. Being young, and having lived outside of Chile for much of the dictatorship, he seems to lack the usual hangups about capitalism, etc. But he also lacks a reasonable weariness of those who flaunt democracy in the name of revolution. Perhaps it's a way of feeling close to his father, or perhaps it's little more than romanticism of the Che T-shirt kind, but it's time to leave all that aside, take down the dorm-room posters, and run for president of Chile.

Second, and more damaging, is his relationship with the Concertación. Clearly Arrate has made peace with Frei, although both continue their campaigns. There are no signs, however, that MEO's people are talking to Frei's. MEO has attracted, and will continue to attract, many of the bright, young, and up-and-coming of the Concertación. In fact, he has attracted them precisely because they were not really coming up within the Concertación. But if he wants to win, and if he wants to govern, he will need more than a bunch of 30 year olds with Masters degrees in public policy from some private Chilean university. Bachelet tried that already. Then she brought in the old guard.

It's still a long shot, but just as Eduardo Frei came up through the middle and beat the heavyweights, Enríquez-Ominami just might pull this off. But not if he doesn't grow up.

And for heaven's sake, don't remind everyone that you're a little kid with a slogan like 'Marco crece'!

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