History of Chile Part III

Parliamentary Republic

According to Youremailverifier, after the Balmaceda government, Chile ceased to be a presidential republic and became a parliamentary republic. In the new political system, the agrarian and financial oligarchy exercised power through Parliament’s control.

In the light of the new legislation, parties emerged, such as the Socialist and the Radical, which defended the interests of the social classes (workers, employees) that arose as a result of the development of bureaucracy, mining, large gas, electricity and railroad companies. These parties organized strike movements in favor of social reforms. Political and social instability accentuated the economic depression at a time when agrarian production barely supplied the national market, as productivity was very low due to the lack of capitalization, and the industry was languishing due to lack of investments.

Period of political instability: 1920-1938. The economic crisis generated great discontent between the popular classes and the middle class, at the same time that the oligarchy, whose political power was very worn out, was unable to end the unrest.

In 1924, the military, supported by the middle class, forced the resignation of Arturo Alessandri, who returned to power a year later. Alessandri then promoted a new constitution, promulgated in 1925, which established a presidential regime whose main objective was to limit the control of political life exercised by the most powerful social groups through Parliament. In addition, provision was made for limiting the right to property, depending on the interests of the state. Political chaos continued (between 1924 and 1932 there were 21 ministerial offices), although from 1927 to 1931 the government of Colonel Carlos Ibáñez del Campo put in place several economic measures (support to industry, partial nationalization of mining), which they were limited by opposition from conservative groups.

The middle and popular classes, the ones hardest hit by the crisis, mobilized. Ibáñez del Campo’s response was the creation of a corporatist state inspired by Italian fascism. In 1931, the failure of this experience led to a return to civilian rule with Juan Esteban Montero Rodríguez, replaced by a short political-military coalition that transformed Chile into a socialist republic between June and September 1932. At the end of the same year, the phase was over. more acute of the economic depression, Alessandri won the elections and returned to the presidency of the country.

Alessandri’s new government, from 1932 to 1938, was characterized by respect for constitutional institutions, political stability and measures taken to overcome the economic crisis (subsidies to industry, creation of a central bank and development of the public sector to reduce the unemployment).

Radicals in power

The discontent of the workers and the middle class with the Alessandri government was reflected in the support given to the Radical Party, which achieved victory in the 1938 election.

Between 1938 and 1946, presidents Pedro Aguirre Cerda and Juan Antonio Ríos governed the country. Cerda came to power in 1938, as a candidate for a left-wing coalition, a popular front composed of the Radical, Socialist and Communist parties. It carried out important reforms, especially in the industrial sector, in which it promoted national production (creation in 1939 of the Corporation for the Promotion of Production) and limited imports. However, the lack of a sufficient parliamentary majority has paralyzed many reformist laws drafted by the government. The terms of Cerda and Ríos benefited from the economic situation of the second world war, which allowed the multiplication of exports with the unexpected growth of European demand.

Between 1946 and 1952, the president of Chile was the radical Gabriel González Videla, who came to power through a coalition with the communists (in which the socialists did not participate). As of 1948, however, the international situation of the cold war led González Videla to break his commitments to the communists and to ally himself with conservatives and liberals.

González Videla’s government allowed American penetration into the Chilean economy to increase (loans, mining control). Americans have become the country’s biggest suppliers, undoing the hegemony of British and French. In addition, during González Videla’s term, the right recovered its electoral strength over the left, which lost votes in the following elections.

During the fourteen years of radical government, there was a marked industrial development and an increase in the percentage of urban population, which in 1952 reached sixty percent.

Period of stagnation: 1952-1964

The electoral victory of the former dictator, Ibáñez del Campo, can be explained by the disappointment of the middle class with the radicals, who failed to increase the political influence of this social group, due to the impoverishment of the popular classes and the growing dependence of the United States. Ibáñez governed in coalition with the right wing of the Socialist Party and with several conservative groups. During his presidential term, a new type of politician hitherto unknown, the populist, appeared on the Chilean public scene.

In 1958, Ibáñez was succeeded in power by Arturo Alessandri’s son, Jorge Alessandri, who ruled with the support of conservatives and liberals. It had some successes in the economic field: it reduced unemployment and inflation, favored industrial development. The wage restraint policy, however, opposed the government to workers and the middle class.

History of Chile 3