(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 07, 2010
In the first round held in
December, Sebastian Pinera,
a billionaire businessman won around 44 per cent of the vote with an
independent socialist candidate, Marco Enriquez-Ominami getting 20 per
the vote. The candidate of the centre-left Concertacion coalition,
who came second, got only 36 per cent. In the final round, 52 per cent
vote went to
Though sections of the western
media have tried to
portray the victory of Pinera as a setback to the Left in Latin
analysts blame the electoral reverse in
There was nothing much to
distinguish between the
economic and political platform of the two candidates. The right wing
aided by his riches ran a slick campaign. The coalition of right wing
he led was named the “Coalition of Change”, taking a leaf out of the
adopted by Barak Obama during his campaign for the
Like his centre-left rival, Pinera also promised to continue with the progressive social programmes initiated by the current socialist president, including the widening of child care and state assistance for non-working mothers. After winning the elections, one of the first things that Pinera did was to praise Bachelet and seek her advice. As the right wing parties lack a legislative majority, Pinera may have to include Concertacion candidates in his cabinet. Otherwise it will be difficult for the new government to enact legislation. The president elect, who takes office in March, has already started talking about forming a government of “national unity”.
Pinera’s elder brother, Jose, was one of the architects of the Pinochet’s neo-liberal economic policies and had served as labour minister. The centre-left governments which followed Pinochet also retained most of the neo-liberal economic programs of the dictatorship which led to the so called “Chilean miracle”. The country’s economy which had registered impressive growth figures throughout the nineties and early 2000 is facing negative growth rate for the last two years. The official unemployment rate is over 10.2 per cent. Pinera’s promise to create a million more jobs during his term seems to have swayed voters.
The contrasting triumph of Evo
Morales and his party—the
Movement for Socialism (MAS) in neighbouring
The MAS is now in total control of both the houses of parliament, having won two-thirds of the seats. The ruling party can now call for referendums for further amendments of the constitution and will be able to make key judicial appointments.
Morales will now have a much freer hand in implementing his ambitious land reforms program in his new five year term. Already 26 million hectares have been redistributed benefiting 98, 454 families. He ran for a second term after successfully getting the constitution amended in a referendum last year. The old constitution had restricted the term of the president to a single term in office.
The indigenous people who form
the majority of the
populace will be further empowered with the re-election of Morales.
taking office, Morales had created quotas for the long discriminated
people in the army and other government services. The government has
set up a
special school to train diplomats from indigenous backgrounds. Three
universities for indigenous people have also been set up. The Morales
government has also achieved the noteworthy feat of eradicating
the last five years with help from friendly governments like
The other even more notable
achievements of Morales in
the last five years have been the nationalisation of the country’s
sector. This move substantially improved the government’s revenues.
nationalisation, gas was sold at $ 0.60 cents per million thermal
it is sold at $5 per million thermal units. Many poor household have
now got natural
gas connections. In the three years since the nationalisation,
Morales plans to bring around 40
per cent of the
country’s economy under state control. Presently around 28 per cent is
the control of the government. The country has huge deposits of lithium
does not have the expertise or the capital to mine it. The metal is
computer and camera batteries and is in tremendous demand worldwide.
that he was ready to “guarantee” investments to exploit the country’s
deposits but warned that
President Hugo Chavez hailed the
victory of Morales as
a victory for all of
Morales took the oath of office
for his second term on
January 22. 30,000 people took to the streets of the capital