Chilean Ruling Coalition Reaches Out to the Communist Party

10-29-08, 9:15 am

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Chilean presidential hopeful and currently Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza admitted that the Chilean ruling coalition could loose next year’s election. But he also proposed closer ties with the Communist Party to impede further vote erosion.

Disappointed with the showing of the coalition in Sunday’s municipal elections Insulza said that “for years I’ve argued that it is very difficult for the opposition to win an election in Chile, because you don’t win a presidential election with 36 percent of the vote, but it is most possible that the ruling Concertación could loose, which is not the same”.

He added he hoped the ruling coalition “has learnt a lesson but at the same time we don’t jump to conclusions.”

Last Sunday, the conservative opposition won the mayoral races in Chile’s main cities, although the coalition managed to keep ahead in Councillors votes.

However Insulza praised the results from the “pact by omission” between the ruling coalition and the Communist party and proposed that the relation should be advanced.

“I think the pact by omission worked and could have worked even better, as was shown in several municipalities” in direct reference to certain towns and counties where the understanding enabled the agreed candidate to win.

In the same line Jose Antonio Viera-Gallo, cabinet secretary for the Michelle Bachelet administration proposed a consensus joint presidential candidate for next year with the Communist party and why not giving them some “technical posts” in government and possibly in a “future cabinet.”

Camilo Escalona, chairman of the Chilean Socialist Party also praised the pact by omission arguing that the “scare campaign launched by right wingers against communism no longer is receptive among the electorate.”

The Chilean communist party has a long tradition in Chilean politics having belonged to ruling coalitions last century in the early seventies under Socialist president Salvador Allende and even before in the late thirties with the Popular Front.

The latest public opinion poll taken before Sunday’s municipal elections showed that former Chilean presidents Ricardo Lagos and Eduardo Frei figure among the leading presidential hopefuls for December 2009 elections among declared militants and followers of the ruling coalition.

The CERC poll based on 1,200 interviews nation wide in early October has Mr. Lagos leading with 23 percent, followed by Mr. Frei, 17 percent; Mr. Insulza, 16 percent and Soledad Alvear, leader of the Christian Democrats with 13 percent.

Compared to three previous similar polls, Mr. Lagos remains ahead, Mr. Insulza stagnant and Ms. Alvear drops from 25 percent. Mr. Frei more than doubles his standing. More over Mr. Frei is ahead 47 percent to Ms Alvear’s 33 percent inside the Christian Democrats.

However the CERC opinion poll also gives opposition conservative Sebastian Piñera as the candidate with most chances of becoming Chile’s next president followed distantly by Lagos with five percent. But when asked more specifically who you would like as the next president, Mr. Pinñera support drops to 37 percent and Lagos to seven percent.