Gulfs between government offers and citizens' demands in Chile

Piñera's government and its promises in the face of social mobilization. Sebastian Pinera is failing to match the demands of people. Ciudadanía Inteligente are trying to encourage more discussion between politicians and citizens in order to increase confidence in political institutions. Español

Renata Avila
13 March 2020, 12.01am
Demonstrators protect themselves from water during a protest against government of President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago Of Chile on 26 November 2019.
Federico Rotter/NurPhoto/PA Images

At Ciudadanía Inteligente we are convinced that democracy is strengthened when the priorities of governments are designed together with the priorities of citizens and when those in power stick to their word regarding the advancement of an agenda of rights. That is why, with each electoral campaign, we develop platforms for citizens to collaborate in the drafting of a government plan they want their candidates to adopt. And once they commit to it, we monitor whether candidates are fulfilling each promise every year.

In our analysis " Del Dicho al Hecho 2019 " we measured the performance of President Piñera and his government during his first year in office. The results revealed little or no progress in his first year of office in areas such as culture, which progressed by 0% the environment which progressed by 19%, and justice and human rights which improved by 26%. The level of compliance was 23% on average for all areas.

The results for 2020 are worrying considering the current situation in the country. The country, led by President Sebastián Piñera and his cabinet, has undergone profound changes since October, with unprecedented levels of protests and repeated violations of human rights by the police and military forces, which have left demonstrators dead, injured and mutilated.

The day after the video of a group of Carabineros (the Chilean police) brutally beating a 69-year-old man (who, surprisingly, survived) on the ground became viral on social media, our study showed 0% progress in the announcements regarding justice and human rights made in the context of the large protests. Worse still, none of these protests are directly related to preventing this type of heartbreaking abuse, but rather to fight for institutional management reforms.

The fulfilment of government promises as well as their democratic adaptation to new times are two essential conditions for Chile to regain credibility in its institutions

The progress made in areas such as work and pensions (82%) or health (53%) has been made without a democratic process to check it. These are priorities of the government whose communication finally began during times of curfew and restriction of fundamental freedoms that were not seen in Chile since the dictatorship.

The agenda, written in response to the protests, is moving forward without connecting to the much deeper social priorities that are being discussed on the streets, as well as the lack of systematic reforms that continues to force millions of people to mobilise on the street. A robust democracy cannot continue to be based on knee-jerk reactions and announcements that accommodate to the government but do not convince the citizenry.

The fulfilment of government promises as well as their democratic adaptation to new times are two essential conditions for Chile to regain credibility in its institutions and in its dynamic democracy, of this century.

More than fulfilling percentages, " Del Dicho al Hecho " tries to recover citizens’ confidence in the institutions, to satisfy the democratic expectations, to fulfill what was said in the campaign not only in form, but in substance. Our objective is to generate new collaborative mechanisms between the Executive Branch and the citizens, beyond the constitutional processes, to advance agendas in common and reduce the confidence gap that today seems insurmountable. In the face of the many imminent crises that are about to affect the country, the region and the world, it is imperative for government and citizens to continue in the same direction formulating it democratically.

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