SANTIAGO – The right-wing coalition Chile Vamos is in crisis over the upcoming elections. Mario Desbordes’s exit from the president’s cabinet only deepens the internal rifts that threaten to fracture the coalition. With less than a month left for negotiations, the four parties attempt to find common ground.
The right-wing coalition is trying to unite before the upcoming election year, but recent conflicts and ideological differences between the parties threatens to split support. Most members are worried that by dividing the vote they could be handing the election to the left.
The recent departure of Mario Desbordes from the president’s cabinet only worsens the situation. While the more extremist leaders propose an alliance with the far right Republican Party, Desbordes wishes to remain closer to the center-right as does Felipe Kast.
Chile Vamos has until Jan. 11, 2021 to inscribe its coalition for the upcoming elections.
An Uneasy Alliance
Chile Vamos consists of the following parties: the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), National Renewal (RN), Political Evolution (Evópoli), and the Democratic Independent Regionalist Party. Officially, they are considered a center-right coalition, with Evópoli in the center and UDI being the furthest right.
On Dec. 20, 2019, however, UDI froze its relationship with the coalition after the agreement for a new constitution was created with the support of RN and Evópoli. UDI claimed that the others had broken coalition agreements and its president, Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, said, “we are the only right-wing party in Chile.”
Since then, President Sebastián Piñera has attempted to reconcile the coalition by placing UDI members in high-ranking cabinet positions, but this has not stopped UDI members from negotiating a possible union with the far right Republican Party.
The main obstacle against this union would be the other members of the coalition. Desbordes’s resignation took place so that he could better lead the RN party during the upcoming election. Desbordes has explicitly stated that he would reject any chance at joining with the Republican Party, saying “what support we would gain on the right we would lose in the center.”
Another obstacle is Evópoli, which has refused to even talk about the possibility of joining with the Republican Party.
The Upcoming Elections
In the meantime, the Republican Party has decided to prepare for the upcoming elections by itself, working with numerous candidates in historically conservative areas, threatening to split the vote between itself and Chile Vamos for the constitutional convention and the local and presidential elections. Coalition leaders worry the split could hand the election to the left.
With the possibility of a coalition primary for presidency, Chile Vamos will have a rough couple of years, given that members from all three parties want to be the coalition’s candidate for president.