SANTIAGO – Convergencia Social is the newest political party in Chile, looking to unite the fractured Frente Amplio ahead of the municipal and presidential elections. Four parties have joined forces and elected their president, representative Gael Yeomans. Convergencia Social is now the second biggest force within the Frente Amplio coalition.
With only five months before the kickoff of municipal elections, the Chilean left—and especially political front Frente Amplio—welcomes another face into their already packed coalition: Convergencia Social, formed out of four parties within the Frente Amplio and born of the chaos that became Frente Amplio after its surprise victory in the presidential election of 2017.
Movimiento Autonomista, Izquierda Libertaria, Nueva Democracia, and Socialismo y Libertad came together in November 2018 in Santiago to announce a new political party that would compete in the elections. Political heavyweights such as Gabriel Boric, Jorge Sharp, and Gael Yeomans participated in the initiative and members chose the latter as their first president last week.
With the creation of Convergencia Social, they have become the second biggest political force after the Revolución Democrática of Giorgio Jackson and, more importantly, they have united four parliamentarians of the Frente Amplio in one party.
In an interview with El Desconcierto, the founders and presidential candidates of Convergencia Social Gael Yeomans and Stephanie Peñaloza explained more about the plans and the foundations of the new party. “Feminism will play a major role. We will focus on issues such as labor rights and will seek the end of extractivism.” Extractivism is the dependence of an economy on natural resources.
The party will compete in the Metropolitan, Valparaíso, and Coquimbo regions during the municipal elections. One of the goals is the reelection of Jorge Sharp as mayor of Valparaíso.
In another interview with La Tercera newspaper, key member Gabriel Boric explained that Convergencia Social came out of the necessity of renewing Chile’s political left. “We have to have answers to new questions and not follow old dogmas.”
“We should not only speak to those who are already convinced, but to the vulnerable people of Chile, to the precarious middle class. We should talk about the new types of poverty that exist today, about mental health, about subjects that are being ignored in the public debate. These are issues that the left has often been unable to take.”
According to Boric, Convergencia Social is a party “that understands that it is necessary to update the left, according to the transformations we experience in Chile and the world, such as the automation of work, mass-scale migration, and climate change.”
In the same interview, Boric also indirectly criticized the situation in Frente Amplio, stating, “It is not sustainable to continue dividing ourselves into different and small islands on the left.” Before Convergencia Social, Frente Amplio consisted of 14 different parties.
Frente Amplio was the biggest surprise during the Chilean elections in 2017. The leftwing movement with its foundations in the student protests of 2011, managed to grow from three to 20 representatives, and also elected a senator and over a dozen regional representatives.
The feminist wave in Chile, the division between the parties and their electorates, and scandals involving key figures made for a rocky start for the Frente Amplio in Chilean politics. With the birth of Convergencia Social, Chile’s biggest opposition front hopes to face the elections as one.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.