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‘Make the Economy Scream’? Economic, Ideological and Social Determinants of Support for Salvador Allende in Chile, 1970–3

  • PATRICIO NAVIA and RODRIGO OSORIO
Abstract

With polling and municipal level data, we analyse the determinants of Salvador Allende's presidential election victory in 1970 and the change in political and electoral support for his government (1970–3). Support for Allende is explained by ideology more than by social class, socio-demographic variables or the economic performance of the country. Allende won in 1970 as an opposition candidate when the outgoing Frei administration enjoyed high approval and the country was experiencing favourable economic conditions. In 1973, when Allende had 49.7% approval, ideology remained the strongest determinant of presidential approval. Economic variables and social class are less important in explaining electoral support for Allende and for his Popular Unity coalition.

Con datos municipales y electorales, analizamos los determinantes de la victoria electoral presidencial de Salvador Allende en 1970 y la evolución del apoyo político y electoral para su gobierno (1970–3). El apoyo a Allende se explica más por ideología que por clase social, variables sociodemográficas o el desempeño económico del país. Allende ganó en 1970 como un candidato de oposición cuando la administración saliente de Frei disfrutaba de alta aprobación y el país experimentaba condiciones económicas favorables. En 1973, cuando Allende tenía el 49,7 por ciento de aprobación, la ideología seguía siendo el determinante más fuerte para el apoyo presidencial. Las variables económicas y de clase social son menos importantes para explicar el apoyo electoral para Allende y su coalición de la Unidad Popular.

A partir de dados eleitorais e de nível municipal, analisamos os fatores determinantes da vitória de Salvador Allende nas eleições presidenciais de 1970, além da evolução do apoio político e eleitoral a seu governo (1970–3). O apoio a Allende é explicado mais por ideologia que por classe social, variáveis sócio-demográficas ou o desempenho econômico do país. Allende venceu em 1970 como um candidato de oposição, em um momento no qual o governo Frei, que se encerrava, gozava de alta aprovação e o país vivia uma situação econômica favorável. Em 1973, quando Allende tinha aprovação de 49,7 por cento, o fator ideológico permanecia como o determinante mais importante do apoio ao presidente. Variáveis econômicas e de classe social são menos relevantes para explicar o apoio eleitoral que recebia Allende e sua coalizão, a Unidade Popular.

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49 The quote was the unofficial campaign slogan of the MAPU, a pro-Allende party in the 1973 legislative elections. See: Drago, Tito, Chile. Un doble secuestro (Santiago: Editorial Complutense, 2003), p. 51 .

* This article was partially funded by Chile's Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT #1171051) and the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (CONICYT/FONDAP #15130009). We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.

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