Socialist Party of Chile

Published 14th November, 2013

The Socialist Party of Chile or PS was founded on 19th April 1933 as a merger of six parties which had supported the 13 day long Socialist Republic of Colonel Marmaduke Grove. The party describes itself as Centre-left and believes in Social democracy and Democratic socialism.

The party won 19 seats in the 1937 general election but then dropped to between five and nine seats for much of the 1940s and 1950s. Part of this can be explained by a series of conflicts with the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) and a major internal split in 1948.

In 1961 they started to rise once more having reunited under the leadership of Salvador Allende, taking 15 of the 147 seats in the Chamber of Deputies in 1965 and 1969 and then 28 of 150 seats as part of the Popular Unity coalition in 1973.

Allende went on to win the 1970 presidential election after a Congressional confirmation under the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity) left wing coalition. His presidency was a disaster and in 1973 he died in a coup d’état led by General Augusto Pinochet. Subsequently many more senior figures in the Socialist Party were to lose their lives, be imprisoned, tortured or exiled.

The Socialist Party was banned under the military regime and didn’t re-emerge until the 1993 general election when it won 15 of the 147 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The party has never held more than 15 seats in the lower house but it has been part of the Concert of Parties for Democracy (Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia) which is better known as Concertación. It has been most successful in electing presidents, having won every presidential election until 2010. The presidents the PDC has supported include 1989, Patricio Aylwin; 1993, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and 1999, Ricardo Lagos.

In 2005 the Concertación presidential candidate, Michelle Bachelet, was nominated from the Socialist Party and subsequently won the election with 53.50% of the vote. The party is supporting Michelle Bachelet once more in the 2013 presidential election.

The Socialist Party of Chile is a member of the Socialist International and regionally the Progressive Alliance and the Sao Paulo Forum.

Michelle Bachelet website

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