Friday, 30 December 2011

The Year in Review

El Dinamo asked me to list the political winners and losers for 2011. Here's the list.

I'm afraid that I was somewhat Punk'd by events, however, as yesterday the latest CEP poll came out. While I list the government as a winner, as it got through a difficult year without making major concessions - especially on the educational front - the poll shows that its popularity keeps dropping. This morning someone asked me how much lower popular support could drop. My view is that if the government attains 23% support in a booming economy, with dropping unemployment, with a disorganized opposition, and in sunny summer, there is still a ways for it to go next year, when by all accounts inflation will rise, the economic scenario is more uncertain, and the opposition will begin to coalesce for the municipal elections and, with a view to 2013, around the figure of Michelle Bachelet.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Automatic Voter Registration, cont'd....

Here is a little interview I gave the Diario Financiero on automatic voter registration.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

President Boric

The elections of a new student federation at the University of Chile has attracted international attention, not so much because the University of Chile is so important (but of course, it is) but because they resulted in the electoral defeat of the international Communist superstar and cover girl, Camila Vallejo.

While everyone wishes the president elect, Gabriel Boric, much success, there are three things which are noteworthy and do not augur all that well for the year to come.

First, the way in which the news of the election was reported in the Chilean media. Examples can be found here, here and here. Pay attention to the photographs.

There is clear euphoria on the part of the media at Vallejo's loss, which is seen as a triumph of the right. For much of 2011 Vallejo was the symbol of a left-wing resistance to authority the likes of which has not been seen in Chile since the return to democracy, and the MSM, and those who read the MSM, and those who own the MSM, didn't like it. Her downfall is their victory.

The second worry has to do with Boric's position, which is far more confrontational than Vallejo's. In this he may, indeed, be more representative of many University of Chile students who reject any kind of negotiation or compromise and who see all political institutions as inherently corrupt and illegitimate. The problem with this position is that in order to achieve results, eventually they have to negotiate with someone.

Which leads to the third problem. Vallejo was to some degree a victim of her own discourse. The illegitimacy with which the student movement views political institutions made any attempts by the current FECH to reach out to (even friendly) politicians as a sell out. They created a vicious circle in which the only way to get results is to take the fight to the political arena, but the only way to get elected is to reject the political arena and insist on the power of the street. The result is to make the lifespan of student leaders very short, and the possible lifespan of the student movement very long while reducing its chances for success.