This year we are living the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the wave of democratization that swept
These two decades were marked not only but the change in the leadership of the countries in the region. They were marked, above all, by a rather naive desire to bring to life democracy in the region. We have tried to do it so however, without the kind of changes that were required to make democracy not only a desirable goal, which it is but-above all- without the support that would have made our democracies viable.
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Part of Chile's story of success is related to long-standing agreements among the country's elites that go all the way back to the 19th century. Such agreements explain, as an example, their ability to defeat Peru and Bolivia in the wars that they have fought against each other but also in their ability to manipulate in their favor the relation they had in the 19th century with Britain.
Such agreements explain also the stability of the Chilean democracy up until the 1960s and, paradoxically enough, Salvador Allende's presidential bid and the coup d'Etat that defrocked him in 1973. Moreover, such ability to strike deals and to build coalitions was used by Augusto Pinochet himself to gain the support of the Christian Democrats, who later decided to switch their loyalty and to become the head of the coalition that rules
At the core of such paradoxical success, it is possible to find political elites willing and able to reach compromises. The most important of such compromises, however, has hot been with other groups or parties, but above all with the country’s conflicting authoritarian legacy. Even the socialist President Ricardo Lagos, a political refugee during Pinochet's regime, has been willing to preserve, untouched, the market reforms carried by Pinochet.
Such ability puts the Chilean politicians well beyond their peers from other countries.