Chilean Plebiscite: Democracy vs. Fear and Propaganda

By Brown, Cynthia | The Nation, October 3, 1988 | Go to article overview

Chilean Plebiscite: Democracy vs. Fear and Propaganda


Brown, Cynthia, The Nation


Either the people express their confidence in the government, or we'll start all overagain from the begining - Genral Fernando Matthei, May 25, Santiago, Chile.

Matthei, the chief of the Chilean Air Force, was referring to the outcome of the October 5 presidential plebiscite. His comment contrasted with earlier statements that the armed forces would abide by the results of the yes- or-no vote that supposedly will lead Chile through a transition to democracy in the next eight years. The most outspoken member of Chile's governing junta and long known to be uncomfortable with the continuation of Gen. Augusto Pinochet as president, Matthei has been a bellwether of shifting military sentiments.

Matthei's threat reflected the government's anxiety over the dramatic changes of the previous four months. In January, during the Chilean summer, the opposition to Pinochet and his military regime was floundering; by May, opposition parties had formed an effective coalition and were on their way to gaining the right to have poH-watchers at every voting site. In January, fewer than 4 million of Chile's 8.1 million eligible voters were registered, and most analysts believed that the majority were Pinochet supporters, since the government had intensively promoted "yes" registration; by May, largely as a result of opposition campaigning, there were almost 6 million voters registered, and polls were showing that Santiago would be won by the opposition's "no" vote. In the provinces, where the regime counted on obtaining its victory, the opposition was also gaining ground.

This situation ran contrary to all the regime's long-term expectations. The Constitution of 1980, which mandated the plebiscite, was designed to give Pinochet legitimacy but also to guarantee him another eight years as president. He and the three other military and police chiefs would unanimously name the candidate; they could set any date they wished, before February 1989, for the vote; they were expecting a period of good economic figures and fragmented opposition.

But since 1983, after an economic crisis alienated the middle class, Chile's movement for democracy has broken out of its silence and embarked on painful, unsteady but persistent growth. It now includes elements of the traditonal right as well as of the center and the Marxist left. And in the past eighteen months the opposition has coalesced around a strategy for defeating the regime at the polls.

Agreement has not been easily reached. The various components of the opposition have argued frequently and vocally -incorrigibly, some observers feel. But as the plebiscite deadline grew nearer, the opposition closed ranks. The two longest holdouts were the Communist Party, which considers the vote a fraudulent exercise but nevertheless in June declared its intention to work for a "no" victory, and the rightist National Party, which split in late August over Pinochet's candidacy and then, through its majority faction, joined the campaign against him.

To say that the opposition is united would be to oversimplify. Ideological and personal tensions have not been forgotten. Recently those differences have been visible in the debate over whether to select a single spokesperson to represent the "no" and over how to handle the meager television time granted the opposition campaign. Such dissension would make an opposition victory messy, for there is not a consensus on how far to press demands for justice in human rights cases and for a genuine political opening.

But differences, while still troublesome, have largely been subordinated to the effort to develop a coordinated national and local campaign for the "no" vote. Ironically, the reverse has happened on the far right, where supporters of the govermnent have entered a period of crisis, internal party elections have been bitterly contentious and enthusiasm for Pinochet is far from universal. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Chilean Plebiscite: Democracy vs. Fear and Propaganda
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.