Christian Democratic Party (Chile)

Christian Democratic Party (Chile)
Christian Democrat Party of Chile
Partido Demócrata Cristiano de Chile
Leader Ignacio Walker
Founded July 28, 1957 (1957-07-28)
Headquarters Av. Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 1460, Santiago de Chile
Coalition Concert of Parties for Democracy
Ideology Christian democracy,
Christian humanism
Political position Centre
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International,
Alliance of Democrats
Regional affiliation Christian Democrat Organization of America
Chamber of Deputies
19 / 120
9 / 38
Local government
59 / 345
Politics of Chile
Political parties

The Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano) is a political party in Chile and governs as part of the Coalition of Parties for Democracy coalition. In the 2009 election it won 19 congress seats and 9 senate seats.

The origins of the party go back to the 1930s, when the Conservative Party became split between traditionalist and social-Christian sectors. In 1935, the social-Christians split from the Conservative Party to from the Falange Nacional (National Phalanx), a more socially oriented and centrist group.

The Falange Nacional showed their centrist policies by supporting leftist Juan Antonio Ríos (Radical Party of Chile) in the 1942 presidential elections but Conservative Eduardo Cruz-Coke in the 1946 elections. Despite the creation of the Falange Nacional, many social-Christians remained in the Conservative Party, which in 1949 split into the Social Christian Conservative Party and the Traditionalist Conservative Party. On July 28, 1957, primarily to back the presidential candidacy of Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Falange Nacional, Social Christian Conservative Party, and other like-minded groups joined to form the Christian Democratic Party. Frei lost the elections, but presented his candidacy again in 1964, this time also supported by the right-wing parties. That year, Frei triumphed with 56% of the vote. Despite right-wing backing for his candidacy, Frei declared his planned social revolution would not be hampered by this support.

In 1970, Radomiro Tomic, leader of the left-wing faction of the party, was nominated to the presidency, but lost to socialist Salvador Allende. The Christian Democrat vote was crucial in the Congressional confirmation of Allende's election, since he had received less than the necessary 50 %. Although the Christian Democratic Party voted to confirm Allende's election, they declared themselves as part opposition because of Allende's economic policy. By 1973, Allende has lost the support of most Christian Democrats (except for Tomic's left-wing faction), some of whom even began calling for the military to step in. By the time of Pinochet's coup, most Christian Democrats applauded the military takeover, believing that the government would quickly be turned over to them by the military. Once it became clear that Pinochet had no intention of relinquishing power, the Christian Democrats went into opposition. During the 1981 plebiscite where Chilean voted to extend Pinochet's term for eight more years, Eduardo Frei Montalva led the only authorized opposition rally. When political parties were legalized again, the Christian Democratic Party, together with most left-wing parties, agreed to form the Coalition of Parties for the No, which opposed Pinochet's reelection on the 1988 plebiscite. This coalition later became Coalition of Parties for Democracy once Pinochet stepped down from power.

During the first years of the return to democracy, the Christian Democrats enjoyed wide popular support. Presidents Patricio Aylwin and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle were both from that party, and it was also the largest party in Congress. However, the Christian Democrat Andres Zaldívar lost the Coalition of Parties for Democracy 1999 primaries to socialist Ricardo Lagos. In the parliamentary elections of 2005, the Christian Democrats lost eight seats in Congress, and the right-wing Independent Democrat Union became the largest party in the legislative body.

It is led by Jorge Burgos. The former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet is from another party in the coalition, the Socialist Party. There have been three Christian Democrat presidents in the past, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Patricio Aylwin, and Eduardo Frei Montalva.

Customarily, the PDC backs specific initiatives in an effort to bridge communism and capitalism. This idea has been called "communitarian socialism." In addition to this objective, the PDC also supports a strong national government. Specifically, in the 1990s, the PDC modernized by adopting a position closer to economic liberalism. Many of the parties in Chile have come to accept the free market that has helped to revitalize Chile's economy. The current president of the PDC is Jorge Burgos. In their latest "Ideological Congress", the Christian Democrats criticized Chile's free market economy and called for changes in the economic system into a vaguely defined "social market economy" (economía social de mercado).

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