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Long and narrow, Chile clings to the western edge of South America's South­ern Cone. Hugging - page 28 / 46

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464                           Politics of Latin America

Independiente join forces for presidential races and go their separate ways afterwards. Not winning the presidency may be part of the problem; there are fewer incentives for long-term concerted action. However, substantial differences in conservative ideology and willingness to negotiate with the center-Left also divide them. Finally, the Union de Centre Centro usually goes its own way due to its right-wing brand of national-populism. Never­theless, by the year 2000, RN and UDI managed to keep their electoral coali­tion—the Alliance for Chile—together for policy purposes. The victory of Socialist Ricardo Lagos for the CPD probably provided the glue that bound them. Conservatives reckoned they would forge a more united front to con­tain a more reform-minded government.

Chile also boasts a number of well-organized interest groups that partic­ipate in politics and policy-making. The most influential ones are those of business, finance, and agriculture. Each of the major economic sectors has a sectoral peak association. The most powerful ones are the Sociedad de Fo-mento Fabril (SFF), the Sociedad Nacional de Agricultura, and the Camara Nacional de Comercio, which organize industrialists, landowners, and mer­chants respectively. The SFF takes a very hard line with respect to the main­tenance of Chile's protected democracy. The Sociedad Nacional de Minena, Camara de la Construccion Chilena, and the Asociacion de Bancos e Insti-tuciones Financieras round out the most important business interest groups. In practice, these associations mostly represent the interests of large-scale business people. The six major sectoral associations have formed an en­compassing peak association, the Confederacion de la Produccion y Com­ercio (CPC). The CPC defends the general interests of business in the pol­icy process. Its views represent a consensus of those of its six member organizations.

Labor organizations have emerged significantly weakened after 18 years of military rule and repression. The old, Marxist-dominated Central Unica de Trabajadores (CUT) was broken up by the military government, which only allowed labor organizations at the plant level. An unofficial, Christian Democrat-led, anti-Marxist confederation—the Central Democratica de Trabajadores (CDT)—was tolerated. The Confederacion de Trabajadores del Cobre remained the most militant union. It spearheaded the protest move­ment of 1983 and it formed the core of the Comando Central de Trabajadores and the Coordinadora Nacional de Sindicatos (CNS). In 1988, the CNS be­came the Confederacion Unitaria de Trabajadores, which remains Chile's principal labor confederation. It is a grouping of industrial, professional, and mining unions led by leftist Christian Democrats and elements of the Left, including the Communist party. Overall, the union movement is not as strong as it was before the military government. Restricted collective bar­gaining, weak strike laws, open shops, low membership (11.5 percent of all employed workers in 1997), and other measures have limited organized la­bor's ability to represent its interests.

The Catholic Church, students, and intellectuals also play a role in Chilean politics. During the Pinochet period, the Church promoted human rights

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