Sunday, 13 November 2011

Student Politics

While Brunner seems to think that the student movement is winding down, or at least that the field of battle is being moved towards Congress, student politics continues with the elections of new student councils. The University of Chile students' union will hold elections in the coming weeks, and the Catholic University (PUC) already held theirs. There is an interesting profile of the new president of the FEUC in today's Mercurio. His name is Noam Titelman, and he represents the same political faction as the outgoing president, Giorgio Jackson. Titelman is an Israeli-born business student, who, although clearly from a middle class family, in many ways is very representative of today's Chilean youth.

He says he identifies with the left, but not with leftist politicians. He is in favour of 'free education', but by that he understands bringing costs down, so that Chilean higher education ceases to be one of the most expensive in the world. He speaks three languages but when asked what music he listens to, it's all latin american. He is, in other words, the kind of wild card of which today's politicians are terrified. Should they get their act together and actually implement automatic voter registration, they have no idea how someone like Titelman would vote.

But young people like Titelman are no revolutionaries. Their feet are very much planted on the ground. Their demands are not idealistic, but based on life experiences which are not shared by an older generation, still marked by dictatorship and democratic transition. Their complaint is not with capitalism, but with the excesses of a system which they see as exploitative. Their complaint is also not with democracy, but with the current democratic institutions which they see as closed and unresponsive.

The PUC could have done worse.

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