Chile Elects Socialist President
Chile elected socialist candidate Gabriel Boric as president.
On Sunday, Chile elected socialist candidate Gabriel Boric as president.
The former student activist, Boric, won with 56 percent of the vote, beating conservative candidate Jose Antonio Kast, who got 46 percent of the vote.
Boris’ election marks the continuation of a political transformation that has been taking place in Chile. A country that despite being the richest in the region, seems to be in love with turning its free-market system into a new socialist experiment in the region.
“We cannot continue to allow the poor to pay for the inequalities of Chile,” Boric said in his victory speech.
In the economic agenda of the president-elect, he has a comprehensive list of socialist reforms such as dismantling Chile’s private pension system and raising taxes on the rich and key economic sectors like mining.
This economic agenda will undoubtedly put an end to the country’s golden era.
On this issue, a little bit over a year ago, I wrote a column with the following title, “Is Chile’s Golden Era Finished?”
I began that piece by elaborating on the successes of the Chilean model. Chile, since the mid-1970s, has quadrupled its gross domestic product. Similarly, its poverty rate has fallen from 45 percent to just 9 percent.
“Since the 1990s, Chile’s extreme poverty has fallen from 35 percent to just two percent, the middle class has grown from 23 percent of the population to 65 percent, and the country’s life expectancy has increased from 69 to 79 years of age … overall, the United Nations’ Human Development Index has Chile as their highest-ranked country in Latin America, among the fifty highest-ranked countries in the world.”
I then continued that piece by pointing out that Chile’s golden era was about to end – not because of the performance of an economic system that has been clearly successful, but as a result of the country’s left-leaning political discourse.
“Despite these impressive achievements, the “Chilean Model” does not possess much popularity among its own population. In fact, the vast majority of Chileans have become notoriously dissatisfied with their country’s track record … this discontent became undeniable on Sunday, when eight out of 10 Chileans voted in favor of rewriting the country’s constitution.”
So, the question is: why did Chile vote against the same system that made it rich? And my answer to that may seem obvious for many people in activism or journalism but less evident for many elites in Latin America.
“Producing positive economic outcomes is necessary but not sufficient for an economic system to survive for generations. The benefits of the system have to be properly communicated – by activists, journalists, and politicians – to the general public so that the citizens not only understand the system but also embrace it as theirs. For this reason, the supporters of a specific political or economic system have to carefully communicate the blessings of their system, in a way that connects with the history, culture, struggles, and desires of their people.”
Understanding this is key, especially now that the left is gaining momentum in Latin America.
By Jorge Jraissati
Jorge Jraissati is a Venezuelan economist and freedom advocate. He is the Director of Alumni Programs of Students For Liberty, an NGO advancing the ideas of a free society in over 100 countries. Beyond SFL, Jorge is a research consultant for IESE Business School, an economist from the Wilkes Honors College, and the President of Venezuelan Alliance, a policy group specialized in the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Jorge is a weekly columnist at Freedom Today Network.