The rise of the new radical right in Chile | International – Market Research Telecast

Posted: December 15, 2021 at 10:02 am

Chilean presidential candidate Jos Antonio Kast, from the Republican Party, during a rally in Concepcin.GUILLERMO SALGADO (AFP)

A few days before a second round that will oppose the candidate of the radical right, Jos Antonio Kast, who prevailed in the first round (27.9%), and that of the left, Gabriel Boric (25.8%), the polarization The discourse between the moral duty of defeating fascism and that of saving the homeland from communism or terrorism reached its climax. How to interpret the rise of an ultra-conservative and libertarian right after a plebiscite in which 78% of Chileans spoke out in favor of the construction of a new social pact through a constitutional process? What are the characteristics and connections of this new radical right?

The vote for the Republican Party has different dimensions: it can be interpreted as a rejection of the model of society offered by the candidate of the left (an anti vote) or as a restorative reaction that seeks to return Chile to its greatness (in the style of the Donald Trumps slogan Make America Great Again). It also appears as an anti-emancipatory reaction to the important cultural transformations experienced by Chilean society since the return to democracy. These three dimensions, of course, are not exclusive.

During the last 30 years, surveys have revealed a greater appreciation of individual freedoms by Chileans, particularly in the moral sphere, as well as the role of the State in providing rights in pensions, health and education, which was part of the demands of the social explosion. In May 2021, the poor electoral results of the Republican Party in the municipal, governor and constituent elections (in which the right was left without veto options in the articles of the new Constitution) confirmed the inadequacy between that political offer and the feel of citizenship. Between 30 and 50% of right-wing voters also voted for approval in the plebiscite, while Jos Antonio Kast campaigned for rejection. How, then, to explain the greater weight of a far-right project in a society that is otherwise without clear signs of ideological polarization?

This greater weight benefited from a very fluid critical juncture, which opened a window of opportunity for the success of this project. The CEP national public opinion survey of August 2021 In effect, it shows that crime became the main concern of Chileans, that there was greater public rejection of the demonstrations that began in October 2019 and the violence that they unleashed. Confidence in the constitutional conventions ability to improve the countrys situation also diminished, which can be attributed to internal disputes during the adoption of its regulations. This pendular movement of restoration of order after social movements of a re-founding nature is not exceptional, as shown by the example of the events of May 1968 in France, followed by a victory for the right.

Added to this social upheaval and situation of institutional uncertainty was the installation in the presidential debate of two critical issues: the migratory crisis in the great north of Chile, where the number of migrants exceeds that of its population, and the radicalization in the southern macrozone of Chile. Mapuche conflict indigenous population that demands the restitution of ancestral lands, partly infiltrated by armed groups. Jos Antonio Kast tripled the vote for Gabriel Boric in Araucana. An economic scenario marked by inflation and low growth projections also contributed to instilling fear towards those who want to destroy the country in the words of Kast with a program that received cross-cutting criticism for neglecting fiscal balances and driving investors away .

Regardless of who wins the second round, Jos Antonio Kast managed to install a counter-hegemonic narrative about the social explosion and the constituent process. In it, two legitimacies are opposed: the representation of the social outbreak as a necessary milestone to give way to social transformations postponed thanks to a new Constitution; and the perception that this was the beginning of a faltering political itinerary in which the government of Sebastin Piera whose approval then fell to the lowest level in thirty years for a president compromised with the left. Kast was able to take advantage of this window of opportunity to challenge the center-right in the name of its founding values: the defense of order and the rule of law, which had already been an axis of his first candidacy for the presidency in 2017, in which he achieved 7.9% of the votes.

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The Republican Party shares a family resemblance with the European extreme right: it is strengthened in a context of crisis social, political, economic and health that reinforces fear and pessimism about the future. This fear is expressed through a feeling of rejection or vote for the lesser evil, which opposes anti-communism and anti-Pinochetism. Like other ultra-right leaders, Kast also appeals to common sense, combining a certain discursive radicalism with the tools of contemporary marketing to spread messages aimed at providing radical solutions to specific problems (for example, building trenches to fight against illegal immigration). By last, those rights are not usually considered extreme. Kast has insisted on his adherence to democratic values and constitutional order, but at the same time he relativized the guilt of one of the military men with the most convictions for violation of human rights, Miguel Krassnoff.

Fundamentally, the Republican Party belongs to the family of radical rights (Mudde, 2019) that accept the essence of democracy but do not agree with fundamental aspects of liberal democracy such as minority rights. They express a new type of cultural reaction (Norris, Inglehart, 2019) with their criticisms of the so-called gender ideology, a discourse that Vox in Spain, but also Zemmour in France or Bolsonaro in Brazil. They rub shoulders with the same ultra-conservative network of parties, associations and churches that seek to stop the conquest of rights for sexual diversity. Although Kast announced that, if elected, on moral issues he would submit to the decisions of Congress, his 2017 program proposed repealing the current abortion law that decriminalizes the voluntary interruption of pregnancy only in the event of rape, a danger to the womans life or fetal infeasibility. This network also seeks, through the Madrid Forum, to stop communism in the world, installing itself as a counterweight to progressive conclaves such as the So Paulo Forum or the Puebla Group.

Beyond that global agenda, and as pointed out by one of his advisers, Kast is much more Ronald Reagan than Trump or BolsonaroIn other words, a libertarian who wants to shrink the State by updating the Chicago Boys recipe. Whoever wins on December 19, with 14 deputies, the Republican Party has already become the third largest force in Congress, managed to mobilize the center-right around its candidate and will probably play a key role in restructuring the bloc. The question of whether this is positive or negative for the health of liberal democracy remains open.

Stephanie Alenda She is the Director of Research at the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences, Universidad Andrs Bello (Chile). She is a contributor to Agenda Pblica.

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The rise of the new radical right in Chile | International - Market Research Telecast

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