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Long and narrow, Chile clings to the western edge of South America's South­ern Cone. Hugging - page 14 / 46





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450                           Politics of Latin America

had accepted their electoral support to win the presidency. He also purged communists from his cabinet. Feeling betrayed, the Left vented its anger against the administration with labor unrest and by opposing the govern­ment in the Congress. From then on, socialists and communists put their differences aside and ran their own presidential candidates.

A disenchanted electorate, augmented by the female vote, put an end to fourteen years of Radical party-led Popular Front coalition tactics with the election of independent Carlos Ibanez del Campo to a second presidency. His ceriter-Right presidency marked the tone of political conflicts for the next twenty years. First, the center-Right feared the electoral resurgence of an in­dependent Left. Second, in three-way presidential elections with candidates from the Right, Center, and Left, minority governments in which presidents won by a plurality were the rule (Ibanez del Campo claimed 47 percent of the vote). Third, inflation and a sluggish economy were the principal eco­nomic issues, generating fierce political maneuvering over fiscal, monetary, foreign exchange, and trade policy. Balance of payment deficits in the na­tional accounts fueled inflation. Fighting inflation required stabilization poli­cies—tight fiscal and monetary policies (reducing government expenditures and increasing interest rates). It also meant borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The imp's loan conditions and oversight of the na­tional economy to ensure compliance fueled nationalist economic sentiment, especially against the United States, due to its significant influence over IMF policy.

Ibanez del Campo's government floundered over stabilization policy be­cause tight fiscal policy meant cutting government subsidies for public util­ities and transportation. This increased prices for consumers and hit low-in­come groups particularly hard, giving the Left ample political ammunition. The perception of center-Right governments selling out the nation to the in­terests of the United States further bolstered the center-Left.

The next presidential election was a five-way race won by Jorge Alessan-dri (son of Arturo Alessandri), who ran as an independent backed by the Conservative and Liberal parties. However, Alessandri won with less than one-third of the ballots cast (31.6 percent), an alliance of the Socialist and Communist parties headed by Salvador Allende came in a close second (28.9 percent), and a new centrist political force, the Christian Democratic party under Eduardo Frei Montalva, garnered 20.7 percent. The Radical party can­didate and an eccentric priest accounted for the rest.

Alessandria administration (1958-1964) ushered in a period in which suc­cessive minority governments of the Right, Center, and Left each attempted to impose their own solutions to Chile's socioeconomic problems. For pro­grammatic and electoral reasons, governing parties refused coalitions with a sector of the opposition, either to the Right or the Left. One by one, they also broke with the understandings that held together the broad social base that supported Chilean democracy. These conditions fueled a leftward drift, radicalization, and polarization of Chilean politics.

Although the reformist political parties that helped bring Alessandri to power did not control the Congress, he refused to invite representatives of

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