Today, the center-right that won the 2017 election with a center and moderate speech is under a tong effect. Our thesis is simple but straightforward. On the one hand, who leads the opinion polls in the sector, the mayor of Las Condes, Joaquín Lavín, has achieved a great connection with public opinion thanks to a careful strategy that favors citizen and intimate issues from the municipal platform (something that Pierre Rosanvallon calls it the «legitimacy of proximity»). Their strategy involves avoiding taking a position on issues of greater ideological depth. Half-joking seriously, perhaps the most politically content, so far, is the creation of the «wax museum,» which includes replicas of political figures. Some are critical of that style. In the words of José Antonio Kast (JAK), Lavín gains his popularity because he is limited to «saying beautiful things in the mornings» (sic). On the other hand, we have precisely the so-called right without JAK filter, whose strategy is to take dogmatic (and extreme) positions on almost all controversial and controversial issues. JAK seeks to draw returns from an alleged polarization in the electorate (or rather to ston it). Something we might call the «legitimacy of confrontation.» This strategy has been successfully rehearsed by Trump, Bolsonaro and other populist leadership at various latitudes. Even if JAK says he doesn’t want to be like them, his strategy points there.
Today, the great paradox is that the moderate, tolerant, centrist center-right that won the 2017 presidential election with a platform that garnered the confidence of the middle voter just as in 2009 is trapped by those two versions of the sector. Why do we think it’s a paradox? Precisely because this centre-right has a strong electoral legitimacy, superior to the «legitimacy of proximity» and «confrontation».
Why has the speech of that centre-right that won in 2017 been shut down?
If we think of this problem in terms of supply and demand, the above is caused by a supply failure. Moderate citizens or the middle voter, who supported the project of Sebastián Piñera and his coalition, have not magically disappeared from the electoral map, they are still there.
Let’s look for a moment at education, an ideological battleground par excellence. Both the Aula Segura project and Admission Justa have been themes in which there is a perfect harmony between values of the center right, the way of communicating and the majority feeling of public opinion. Another poorly communicated but well-conceived example was the Protected Middle Class, which, contrary to the care-stake that generates dependence, provides tools to enable the progress of individuals and families. So, we can safely infer that there is a citizen’s demand for a project that ensifies the values and preferences of that centre-right.
The problem is that the centre-right gives the impression of being accommodating to governing with those moderate, tolerant, common-sense ideas with which it won the hearts of those citizens seeking safety. In many areas of government it is difficult to find the center-right seal on bills, reforms and measures that are implemented. Many of them appear to be disconnected from the axes that allowed winning in 2017. In simple, it is not enough to announce the achievement of measures of the government program, it is necessary to embrace and fly the citizen causes that led us to victory.
The key is not to deviate from the 2017 mandate, as moving towards ideas and the style of JAK is not the solution. This would be to betray the centrist precept and everything that has built the centre-right since the democracy of the agreements onwards. Resting on the «legitimacy of proximity» of Lavín, on the other hand, has serious limitations. While there are other structural factors, the case of Mauricio Macri is a good example of the limits of the proximity strategy. Given his experience as mayor of Buenos Aires, the current president assumed the thesis that «to rule is to be close». However, what worked for Macri as mayor did not have the same result nationally. The government of Cambiamos stopped doing pedagogy and talking ideologically to Argentines based on its centrist platform, as recognized by an editorial of the trans-Andean newspaper La Nación a few weeks ago. This blurred the meaning of the change of 2015, which has Kirchnerism one step away from returning to power after Macri’s defeat in the PASO primaries. Keeping the proportions, we run the same risk if the center-right does not give a powerful account of the government’s work.
Similarly, swift and opportunity must be reacted to sensitive citizen demands. The crisis in Osorno is a good example: the last thing that can happen is for the citizens to perceive the centre-right being soft with entrepreneurs. It is not enough to put on «red parkas» looking only for a proximity between government and citizens. Turning fully to the thesis of governing is being close, raising the risk of ideological emptying of the sector and we already know how that ended in Argentina. Nor can we bet on a polarization of society, as JAK seeks. Argentina is also a good example at this point: Macri bet on polarization in the PASO campaign, to the «crack» in Argentine society, and it went as it went.
Politics doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.
The content poured into this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.