a generation of thirty-something left at the gates of power

“Do not be afraid of the youth to change this country (…) if Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its tomb ”, proclaims Gabriel Boric, 35, in July, while he has just aroused the surprise by winning the primary of the left (his coalition includes the Communist Party up to center-left sensibilities). Five months later, he is preparing to play a second round, historically polarized and with an uncertain outcome, Sunday, December 19 against the far-right candidate, José Antonio Kast, 55 years old. Gabriel Boric is the youngest of the presidential contenders, and the figurehead of the young Chilean left.

Thirty-year-olds like him, deputies or mayors of large cities, they are thus numerous to integrate the vast political family of the candidate, and constitute the potential list of ministers and secretaries of his government if he is elected. Above all, they embody the profound generational renewal of the Chilean left, which has been under way for ten years.

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Southern winter 2011. The country is shaken by the most important demonstrations since the return to democracy in 1990. These are overseen by student organizations, stunned by the debt induced by academic courses, including in public universities . This heavily privatized system, which extends to other sectors of society, was put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), before being set in stone with the 1980 Constitution. different universities, from various political currents of the left, emblematic leaders demanding free education, assert themselves, behind the megaphones, in front of the cameras: Gabriel Boric (Autonomous Left), Camila Vallejo (Communist Party), Giorgio Jackson (he will found in the wake of the Democratic Revolution movement).

Exhaustion of traditional parties

Three years after the uprising, they burst into the Chamber of Deputies in 2014. They are not even 30 years old. “For them, the struggle goes beyond that of education, it is already an alternative social model that they defend, by entering politics”, remarks Carlos Duran, sociologist at the Catholic University Silva Henriquez, who has joined the strategic team of Gabriel Boric.

The trajectory of the small band of twenty-year-olds is singular: they escape the center-left / right structure, at the heart of political life since 1990. Today’s presidential election confirms this progressive exhaustion of the traditional parties, including the two forces. historical data are, for the first time, absent. “When they enter Congress, they break with a very institutionalized and conservative Chile”, emphasizes Claudio Fuentes, sociologist at Diego Portales University. Supreme affront: they abandon the wearing of the tie. Gabriel Boric sits alternately, with his hair long or shaved to the side. In the hemicycle, they move away from the sometimes bombastic expression of their elders.

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