The Economist has taken the riots in Aysén and run with them, linking them, rightly, with the deeper problem of representation. However, to say that the RN-DC agreement was a about changing the subject is wrong. The agreement also states that the electoral system must be changed. The proposal of a semi-parliamentary system is there, but nobody takes it seriously. What everyone takes seriously is the electoral system, and, increasingly, what kind of presidential system we wish to have. Piñera's response was inadequate, but there is lots going on behind the scenes.
Or at least there was, until everyone took off for the beach
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
While I was out of town it seems something of a revolt has broken out in Chile's deep south. It is funny that the Chilean MSM for some time didn't pay much attention -- which is precisely the point. Patagonians are demanding that people here in Santiago (and by people I mean the government, so I may be using the term loosely) pay attention to them. As this excellent BBC en Español piece reports, everything costs double in Aysén than in Santiago. And Santiago is expensive enough.
Worse still, Aysén is not connected by land to the rest of the country, leading its residents to feel much more kinship with their Argentine neighbours. In fact, if you speak to residents from Patagonia, you often find a slight Argentine accent.
Many people have noted that the Patagonian movement is not about politics, it is about identity. This may be so, but that's still political. Identity, left to seethe in anger and resentment, becomes political, and then becomes a great big headache. If you don't believe me, just ask the Quebecois, the Palestinians, or anyone in the Balkans.
They already have their own flag.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
I think I have posted before about how similar I believe are the processes going on within the Alianza in Chile and the Republican Party in the US. They both seem to be fighting a kind of civil war between those who wish to win the next election, and those who are just as happy that they remain testimonial parties, true to their ideology. The Republican primaries this year have been all about that fight. But that's the good thing about primaries. They allow the parties to fight these things out, settle on a leader, and hopefully move on. Otherwise, one gets a situation such as the one the Chilean government has been going through, with open bickering amongst different factions.
Here is a column I wrote last week for La Segunda on the subject. Since it was published, Rick Santorum's success has only proven how unwilling many Republicans are to accept the candidate who clearly has the best chance of winning. Obama must be smiling.