It went from being an open secret to becoming a transversal concern within the National Renewal: the leadership exercised by the tandem Francisco Chahuán and Diego Schalper, president and general secretary, respectively, three months after winning the elections, has generated an unusual and early concern in different sectors of the store, which extends to the rest of the ruling party. What several described as “erratic driving” also splashed the command of the presidential candidate of Chile Podemos +, Sebastián Sichel, from where they said they did not feel comfortable with the last maneuver of the senator for the Fifth Region, of “iron fist” and threats to the militants that do not fit with the decisions of the table.
The boredom that had caused in the most conservative sectors of the party the leadership that was exercising at the time the now extimonel, Mario Desbordes – accused, among other things, of leading the party to “the left” in the midst of the social explosion – managed to sit at the same table to representatives who, under normal circumstances, would not have agreed, thinking about a medium to long-term project, as it was on that occasion.
In this way, with Chahuán as a representative of the so-called “powers that be”, such as Andrés Allamand or Carlos Larraín, and Diego Schalper, an ally of personeros of lesser power but key at the time, they managed to carry out an instrumental pact or a “marriage for convenience”, to take a turn in the direction that the community would have taken ten years ago, with the work initiated by the former minister Cristián Monckeberg and continued by Desbordes himself, and that they have sought to reverse without much luck yet.
The project at that time aimed to lower the demand for the military and, at the same time, turn towards the center, a totally counterproductive bet with what was the way after ten years at the command of the former patron, Carlos Larraín. During the former senator’s term, the bet was that of a conservative party, smaller, but more pragmatic. Finally, and under the Monckeberg-Desbordes administration, RN ended up positioning itself as the party with the largest number of representatives in most of the instances of popular election and, above all, in Parliament, generating friction with its partners in the UDI and that suffered in the flesh the Government of President Sebastián Piñera.
The straw that broke the camel’s back
In the current internal, although there was already noise regarding the little complement in the work of the Chahuán-Schalper tandem, which was evidenced in double functions, such as giving contradictory instructions to the same person or various interruptions between the two in the meetings of the political commission, the moment of the inscription of the parliamentary lists was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many.
Different sources speak of the annoyance generated at the time by the indecision “and lack of clarity” of both when negotiating the lists. His own conglomerate peers blamed a deficit in the party’s internal work, where they pointed to the two top leaders as those responsible for the delay in the final signing.
At the time, this situation was very annoying, because the publicly established deadline could not be met, and that sought to show public opinion a greater complement and a better work than in the opposition sidewalk. Different characters who participated in the series of technical and political meetings, recalled a “wake-up call” from sebastián Sichel’s representative at the table, Rodrigo Ubilla, for the lack of agreement between the two, in instances in which all the parties had at that point clarity of their bets.
And it was not only the breach of the word pledged by the helmsman Francisco Chahuán before the general council, where he asked to be granted a vote of confidence for the formation of the lists, under the commitment to respect the institutionality (which did not happen). In addition to the “little vision and understanding of the electoral system”, for having subtracted from competing in the senatorial for Ñuble and having ceded that space to the UDI, it is added to have chosen to protect certain figures instead of generating competition, as the others did. As an addition, another fact that increased the annoyance was the inscription of Henry Boys on the RN list, who does not commune with either the presidential candidate or the party’s gaze.
The “hierarchies” at headquarters
Inside the store, there is a small number of representatives to the who pigeonhole themselves as “chahuanistas”, and are the ones who would be in total disagreement with the role that Schalper has adopted, who “responds on his own” and is not accountable to anyone, they said. It is known that between them they do not feel comfortable either and this would have been evidenced in a series of meetings where the two contradicted each other in front of all those present, in addition to the questions under rope that they make of each other in different circumstances when making decisions, as shared by overflowing, chahuanistas and officials. “It’s an uncomfortable experience,” said those who have seen themselves in the midst of internal disagreements.
Close to the president, in addition, they have presented their annoyance at the attitude taken by the deputy for the Sixth Region when hiring staff. According to the accusations, Schalper did not consider any sensitivity or have asked anyone at the time of taking the charges. That was resented in the circle of Senator Chahuán, who is pointed out – outside his office at the party headquarters – that he walks on a terrain that is not the “ideal”.
At RN’s headquarters in Antonio Varas, the floors mark category with respect to hierarchy. In this way, the first floor, where Chahuán has his office, is the most important. In that space also work those who are described as the only two officials that the senator has, because “all the others were taken by Schalper,” they said. This is Luis Pereira, who serves as chief of staff of the boss, in addition to the head of coordinators, Chantal Barreau.
In the internal hierarchy then Pablo Perelló appears, as general coordinator, who is close to the deputy, and from then on, on the third floor, where political coordination works, “everyone responds to Diego Schalper”.
Given the atmosphere, it is already known of the resignation of Rodrigo Cerda, close to the president, and Pablo Poblete, founder of the Centro Derecha Universitaria (CDU), a space occupied by younger representatives who respond to the most conservative sector and who have several spaces in the Government, mainly in the Ministry of Education.
The noise of the “iron hand”
Several of those consulted linked the behavior that Francisco Chahuán has had in recent times to internal pressures and the need to demonstrate greater leadership. But the style of “iron hand” applied, rather than elevating him to the quality of leader, has generated a lot of noise in a party where not everyone shares that way of exercising power.
In addition, they said, it was totally counterproductive to have raised deputy Leonidas Romero to the Supreme Court, because not only did he highlight a minority that should not make much noise, “add to that that he revealed a lack of coherence in his actions,” they say in the party. This was explained by recalling the episode where Chahuán was the first to leave celebrating the defeat of Mario Desbordes, attending the triumph of Sebastián Sichel, once the results of the official primary were known.
The “my hand is not going to shake,” words of the party’s own helmsman, is another of the bills that have him to collect, they said. As they recall in RN, Chahuán himself had promised before the political commission not to punish dissent, as a way of negotiating that a censure was not raised against him.
In the internal of National Renewal there are those who venture to point out that, in the short term, “either one survives or the other survives”, that is: either Chahuán or Schalper. The key date to understand if things will continue to work as they do today, will be November 21, when the results of the parliamentary election are known. And from both sides they are already preparing to place the responsibility on the other.