The Women Of The May 2021 Elections

One of the recent election’s biggest surprises was the high number of women elected. At the Constitutional Convention level, the parity norm ultimately benefited male candidates. Chile Today identifies the women who stood out most during the elections.

 Karina Oliva

Karina Oliva was born in Bajos de Mena, in Puente Alto. She studied political science and international relations at the Academy of Christian Humanism University, in Santiago.

She was senator Alejandro Navarro’s adviser in 2011, when Navarro was the president of the Wide Social Movement (MAS). However, when MAS showed support for the Bachelet presidential campaign, she resigned.

Later, she was the spokesperson for the Frente Amplio coalition and president of the Poder Ciudadano collective, which merged with Autonomous Left and created the Comunes coalition in 2019.

She defines herself as “deeply feminis,t” according to her website, and her plans for the regional government consist of creating a “respectable, fearless, fair, innovative and green city.”

At 35 years old, Oliva, is the current regional governor candidate, along with Claudio Orrego. The two are headed for a runoff on June 13, because neither won 40 percent of the votes last weekend; Karina won 23.6 percent and Orrego, 25.4.

Read more:

May 16: The Outcome of the Regional Elections

Irací Hassler

Irací Hassler is 30 years old, her mother is Brazilian, her father is Chilean and of Swiss descent. Her family was not very politically involved, but her father is more inclined to the right wing, which is why they were surprised when she joined the Communist Party in 2011.

Hassler studied economics at the University of Chile, in Santiago. During the student protests in 2011, she started collaborating with the Communist Party as a member of the Central Comitée and later she was executive director.  In 2014 she became the leader of the University of Chile Student Federation (FECH). In 2016, she was elected to be city councillor for Santiago for a four-year period.

She was elected to be the mayor of the municipality of Santiago, where she plans to work on economic reactivation, the sanitary crisis, protecting the environment, and issues regarding gender equality.

Hassler won the election over Felipe Alessandri with 38 to his 35 percent of the vote (the mayoral elections require only a bare majority), which makes her the first ever Communist Party member to become the mayor of Santiago.

Emilia Ríos

 Born and raised in Ñuñoa, between the Los Presidentes and Villa Freire neighborhoods, Emilia Ríos went to school at Liceo Carmela Carvajal, and studied political science at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile until 2014. In 2020, she obtained her master’s degree in government and public management from the University of Chile.

She worked at the Espacio Publico Research Center as project coordinator, in the Democracy and Governance department. In 2015, she was technical advisor to the Presidential Advisory Council Against Conflicts of Interests, Influence Peddling, and Corruption, also known as the Engel Commission.

Ríos has been Ñuñoa’s councilwoman since 2016, where she was a part of the Women and Gender Equality Commission, working on gender issues, and the Environmental Commission, overseeing the district’s recycling and garbage services.

Ríos, from the Democratic Revolution Party, was elected mayor of the municipality of Ñuñoa with 31.7 percent of the votes against Guido Benavides (National Renovation). She is the first left-wing mayor to win the municipality in 24 years.

 Also read:

May 16: The Outcome of the Municipal Elections

Macarena Ripamonti

 Macarena Ripamonti grew up in Viña del Mar and studied at the Escuela 15 República del Ecuador school. After high school, she worked restaurant and retail jobs to afford her college education. 

She graduated in law sciences from the University of Viña del Mar, and she has a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Valparaíso.

She has worked as an investigator for the Political and Constitutional Research Center in Valparaíso, and also as Technical Advisor in the National Defense Ministry.

Ripamonti, member of the Democratic Revolution Party, was elected to be the mayor of the municipality of Viña del Mar with 38.2 percent of the votes, beating her opponent Andrea Molina, from the Independent Democrat Union Party (UDI), who won only 21 percent. She will be replacing Virginia Reginato (UDI), who was the mayor of Viña del Mar for over 17 years.

 Francisca Linconao

 Francisca Linconao is 60 years old and one of the Mapuche representatives who will be seated at the Constitutional Convention. She is a Machi, a spiritual authority. Machis traditionally have roles as healers and spiritual guides for their communities. She is known as a human rights defender in Chile.

In 2009, she became the first Mapuche woman to succeed at a 169 Convention Trial in Chile, in order to protect her Rewe, which is a sacred monument for the Mapuche. Her victory prevented the Palermo Forestal Company from cutting down a native forest that her community considers to be sacred.

In 2013, she was accused and taken to trial for the famous Luchsinger-Mackay murder, where a married couple was murdered after their farm was burned down by unknown assailants. She went on a hunger strike for 14 days, claiming that she was innocent and that she was being unjustly incarcerated. After this, she was absolved by the court in Temuco.

Linconao is also the constituent candidate who won the most votes for the native reserved seats at the Constitutional Convention, with 83.5 percent of the votes.

Overall, Progressive and Female Candidates Prevailed

This election’s results clearly favored progressivism and female candidates. This was especially the case in the constituent election, where the parity norm, which was originally designed to prevent there being more male than female members, had to be used to strike female candidates to balance out the table.

The election results appear to be consequence of the estallido in 2019 and the feminist protests in 2018, both historic events that energized progressivism and feminism. 

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