Chile in transition: Prospects and challenges for Latin America’s forerunner of development



The economic, political and social situation in Chile shows a country in transition. Some observers anticipate a broad “reboot” of the nation. While Chile is still seen by many as an example of progress in South America and of developmental potential in the global South, it faces a complex political constellation, particularly in the aftermath of the re-election of Michelle Bachelet. Many wonder how social and institutional innovations can be incepted without interrupting the country’s remarkable success over the past decades. This book provides an interdisciplinary analysis of Chile’s situation and perspectives. In particular, it addresses the questions: What is Chile’s real socio-political situation behind the curtains, irrespective of simplifications? What are the nation’s main opportunities and problems? What future strategies will be concretely applicable to improve social balance and mitigate ideological divisions? The result is a provocative examination of a nation in search of identity and its role on the global stage.

Chapters (7)

Often branded the “Switzerland of the global South”, Chile in many ways corresponds to its excellent economic and fi nancial reputation when observed from the outside-but steers through rough waters to maintain enthusiasm with its own citizens. One family’s tale embodies the history of the country between imported neoliberalism and domestic socio-economic emancipation that led to today’s situation: the story of the Matte siblings. To know this story and thus to understand the economic basis of current Chile and its inbuilt ideological battles that reach back to the 1970s and 1980s is the indispensible prerequisite to getting an insight into the constellation and perspectives of the nation as it stands today, including its political, fi nancial, social, and cultural dimensions.
This chapter, the cultural dimension, focuses on the era of President Sebastián Piñera (2010–2014), the first center-right government since the postdictatorial transition to democracy in 1988–1989. It explores the trends and changes in social psychology and collective mentalities since the start of Piñera’s tenure, as well as the competition between different public narratives over the past couple of years about what a “good society” in Chile could and should look like. Since Piñera was the first Chilean president to fully grasp the rising importance of social psychology and collective narratives as “contextual political factors,” questions of identity have become crucial elements of public discourse in today’s Chile.
This chapter, the political dimension, concentrates on the beginning of Michelle Bachelet’s second term in government (Bachelet II, 2014–2018). It explains the background, implications, and perspectives of the presidential and general elections of November and December 2013, the shift between the governments Piera and Bachelet II, the legal and institutional mechanisms in play, the remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship in the electoral system, and the entry of former student protest leaders in traditional political structures. The chapter concentrates on the program of Bachelet II and on future scenarios presented by the various parties and alliances represented in the political institutions. It also analyzes the impact of the student protest movement on the current and foreseeable sociopolitical scenarios.
This chapter, the social dimension, provides an analysis of Chile’s social situation at the beginning of the office of Bachelet II, including inequality, redistributive policies, social and class struggles, and ideas for reform. Chile features the highest level of inequality of all 34 OECD member states and thus faces the question of how to mitigate social rifts to avoid the widening of the gap between those sections of the population who have access to tools and public life and are able to participate, and those who aren’t.
This chapter, the fiscal dimension, considers the opportunities and problems of Bachelet II’s envisaged tax reform, i.e., the centerpiece of her reform program for the country, and the complex intertwinement of the fiscal and economic systems as motors of growth and factors of political and social power.
This chapter, the educational dimension, reflects the state of affairs and the perspectives of Chile’s envisaged grand educational reform. It also presents some observations on the transformational force of Chile’s sociopolitical protest movement stemming from and rooted in the universities and high schools. Can and will student protest continue to trigger changes in the existing societal arrangement? And, in turn, how will educational reforms impact the student protest movement?.
This chapter, five additional critical issues for the future, offers an outlook on Chile’s future and discusses five issues that will critically impact the country’s transition as well as—in particular—the governability of its change: (1) Democracy and new media, including the politics on (and of) the Internet; (2) Foreign policy, new strategic alliances, and participation in global governance; (3) Sustainable approaches to resources and energy; (4) Global climate change and care of the environment; (5) Resilience, security, and peace politics.
... In a topography dominated by the Andes mountain range and a long coastline, Chile is often portrayed as a pioneer in Latin America owing to its level of human development, steady economic growth, and low economic risk (Benedikter and Siepmann, 2015). An open and transparent economy enables, for instance, low to zero tariffs for imported technology (Nasirov et al., 2015). ...
... Nevertheless, the potential for sustainability-oriented Strategic Resource Alliances is bigger and more concrete than ever, including some nations' aiming to solve the global environmental question by shifting the resource problem into outer space via the rapidly rising new economy of "space mining." Many initiatives by NGOs, local and regional governments, scientists, and politicians point toward a new, better aligned globally, and more responsible resource course that may use a more multifaceted overall resource strategy than nature-consuming modernity since the nineteenth century has dramatically featured-including Fordism in particular and its globalized fossil fuel-centered remnants (Benedikter and Siepmann 2015;Sommer 2015), which made the natural environment as a whole just a resource for production in an encompassing and unilateral sense. ...
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In this article, the sequel to Roland Benedikter’s article “The Future of Resources” published in the last issue of Challenge, the authors argue that one option to avoid some of the resource conflicts of the future is to leave the resources in the ground—that is, to decide not to use them by local, national, international, and global agreement. That may involve complex political arrangements between the local and the glo- bal, as well as aspects of international law partly still to be developed. What could the global “Keep It in the Ground” movement actually accomplish? The authors are cautiously optimistic.
... Although "leftist" advice like that of Cacciari-is potentially dangerous because it increases the possibility that the old problem of Italy interfering with the reform agenda could arise again, Renzi's agenda would probably find more favor by broadening its institutional basis instead of basing success in large parts on politics. More precisely, basing it on the "politics of agreement" beyond parties and along personal friendship lines that have proven to be extremely vulnerable, as the example of other OECD countries such as Chile has shown (Benedikter and Siepmann, 2015). ...
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For decades, Chile combined democracy with economic success. In the spring, the Chileans voted overwhelmingly for Sebastián Piñera, a rich businessman, to lead its country. What does it mean for the economy? How will it influence the rest of Latin America?
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Power struggles for resources are playing an increasingly crucial role behind the scenes, often covered by diplomacy or goodwill rhetoric. The question after the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of December 2015 is: Will new global civil society movements play a post-traditional and mediating role between the classical resource-securing strategies of the great powers and thus pave the way towards more connected, integrated and sustainable futures in the resource sector? What role will in particular – as a potential forerunner of others – play the global " Keep it in the Ground " Initiative, which aims at leaving the resources in the ground instead of using them? This essay gives an overview of the current situation and offers an alternative way forward. Part 1: Trends and Models I Recent important events such as the 12-month blockade of rare earth exports to Japan by China in 2012–13 or the halt to the construction of the South Stream pipeline for the import of Russian gas to Europe in 2015 by the EU used resources as a means for – and expression of – geopolitical power politics. But rather than their immediate, and as such rather shortsighted political intentions , they achieved a much broader and probably more enduring goal: they made both nations and the international community fully aware of the need for strategic long-term resource planning.
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