Chile's Embattled Democracy

October 21, 1970

Report Outline
Marxist Victory in Presidential Race
Chile: Land of Variety and Contrasts
Political Outlook for Chile in 1970s

Marxist Victory in Presidential Race

Latin Trend Reflected in Chile's Leftward Turn

When more than one-third of the voters of Chile cast their ballots for a Communist-Socialist coalition candidate for President on Sept. 4, they startled a world unaccustomed to the spectacle of a Marxist bidding for power in a free and fair election. The Marxist, Salvador Allende, finished first in a three-man presidential race at the head of a loose grouping of Socialists, Communists, Radicals, and splinter factions. The way was thus opened for him to become, on Nov. 1, the first Marxist voted in as head of a Free World nation. Many things could prevent him from taking office, or from serving a full six-year term. The first obstacle lay in the Chilean Congress, due to meet Oct. 24 in joint session to choose between the two leading candidates, Allende and rightist Jorge Alessandri. However, on Oct. 19 Alessandri withdrew and thus assured that Allende would be offered the presidency.

Whether or not Allende dons the presidential sash and keeps it for any significant length of lime, the election marks a major development in Chilean and inter-American affairs. First of all. it was noted that more than 60 per cent of the votes were cast for the two leftist candidates, Radomiro Tomic of the ruling Christian Democratic Party and Allende. A former American ambassador to Chile observed that “a majority of the Chilean people, quite predictably, have indicated their desire for a government of the left and apparently at least a third of the electorate is not concerned with a Marxist label.”

Chilean voters were following a hemisphere-wide trend toward radical solutions for mounting economic and social problems, and toward increasing nationalism in political and economic affairs. The vote also confirmed the rapid leftward movement of Chile's masses, both urban and rural, employed and unemployed, since the end of World War II. Analysts expect a re-alignment of all Chilean political parties as a consequence of the election. They foresee some old-line parties of both the right and left disappearing in the next few years, and new groups, based on a more realistic appraisal of the country's political mood, emerging. The traditional, conservative right has all but withered away in Chile. Future battle lines are more likely to be drawn between the Marxist and non-Marxist left than between liberal and conservative.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Latin America
Sep. 14, 2018  Turmoil in Central America
Jun. 05, 2012  China in Latin America
Mar. 2008  The New Latin America
Jul. 21, 2006  Change in Latin America
Mar. 14, 2003  Trouble in South America
Nov. 09, 2001  U.S.- Mexico Relations
Sep. 19, 1997  Mexico's Future
Jul. 19, 1991  Mexico's Emergence
May 05, 1989  New Approach to Central America
Mar. 06, 1987  Soviets' Latin Influence
Dec. 26, 1986  Pinochet's Chile
Nov. 08, 1985  Troubled Mexico
Apr. 10, 1981  Latin American Challenges
May 05, 1978  Central America and the U.S.A.
Sep. 23, 1977  Mexican-U.S. Relations
Jun. 04, 1976  Relations with Latin America
Oct. 21, 1970  Chile's Embattled Democracy
Jun. 24, 1970  Mexico's Election and the Continuing Revolution
Apr. 02, 1969  Economic Nationalism in Latin America
Jul. 19, 1967  Guerrilla Movements in Latin America
Dec. 28, 1966  Militarism in Latin America
Oct. 20, 1965  Common Market for Latin America
Aug. 04, 1965  Smoldering Colombia
Jun. 23, 1965  Inter-American Peacekeeping
Dec. 11, 1963  Progress of the Alianza
Oct. 05, 1962  Arms Aid to Latin America
Dec. 13, 1961  Land and Tax Reform in Latin America
Jul. 26, 1961  Commodity Agreements for Latin America
Jan. 11, 1961  Revolution in the Western Hemisphere
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Jan. 13, 1960  Expropriation in Latin America
Jul. 02, 1958  Economic Relations with Latin America
Mar. 02, 1954  Communism in Latin America
Jun. 20, 1952  Political Unrest in Latin America
Sep. 18, 1950  War Aid from Latin America
Oct. 31, 1947  Arming the Americas
Jul. 24, 1946  Inter-American Security
Jan. 02, 1942  Latin America and the War
Jul. 10, 1941  Export Surpluses and Import Needs of South America
Jun. 04, 1941  Economic Defense of Latin America
Jun. 25, 1940  Politics in Mexico
Nov. 01, 1939  Pan American Political Relations
Oct. 10, 1939  United States Trade with Latin America
Apr. 07, 1938  Protection of American Interests in Mexico
Mar. 04, 1936  Peace Machinery in the Americas
Sep. 27, 1933  Trade Relations with Latin America
Oct. 16, 1928  Pan American Arbitration Conference
Jan. 12, 1928  The Sixth Pan American Conference
Jan. 10, 1927  American Policy in Nicaragua
Dec. 27, 1926  Relations Between Mexico and the United States
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean