Independent Democrat Union

Independent Democrat Union

party_name = Unión Demócrata Independiente
colorcode = #000080
leader = Juan Antonio Coloma
foundation = September 24 1983
ideology = Conservatism, Right-wing
headquarters = Av. Suecia 286, Providencia
international = International Democrat Union
website =
The Independent Democrat Union ("Unión Demócrata Independiente", UDI) is a Chilean conservative political party. Its current president is Hernán Larraín. UDI and National Renewal (RN) form a coalition of right-wing parties called "Alianza por Chile" (Alliance for Chile). It is currently the largest political party in Congress. The origin of this party was primarily brought about by the need to legitimate and create a political structure to similar to one instated by the administration of Augusto Pinochet.

The party nominated Las Condes mayor Joaquin Lavín as their candidate in the 1999 presidential election. Lavín obtained second place (47.5%) in the election, but was defeated in a runoff by Ricardo Lagos. Lavín ran again in the 2005 presidential election but did not make it to the runoff, securing only 23% of the vote.

As of the most recent parliamentary election on December 11, 2005, UDI members hold 9 seats in the Senate and 33 in the house. Since the 2001 elections, UDI has been the largest opposition party as well as the largest single party in Congress.


It was in the endings of the 1960s, during the university strikes of 1967 and 1968 when Jaime Guzmán, President of the Student Center of the School of Laws of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, who was against the protests and the strikes led by the Student Federation ruled by the Christian Democratic Youth, and a supporter of the "gremialismo" doctrine, gathered a group of students and formed the "Movimiento Gremial" (Brotherhood Movement) and participated in the elections of the Student Federation of his university.

The movement quickly became one of the most important in the Catholic University, winning the presidency of the Federation, and became the core of the student opposition to President Salvador Allende's government. Guzmán supported a military coup against Allende's government, which happened shortly thereafter on September 11, 1973 ("see": Chilean coup of 1973). He was a close advisor of General Augusto Pinochet. [ [ Discurso de Chacarillas (1978)] ]

In 1980, Guzmán participated in a committee summoned by Pinochet to write a new Constitution. The final edited draft became the Constitution of 1980, which currently is still in force, though with major alternations by the subsequent Concertación governments.

Guzmán crafted the current binomial electoral system, which assigns two congressional seats per district to the top two coalitions unless the first coalition gets twice as many votes, making it very difficult for single party to secure a firm majority in the legislature. This system is controversial in Chile and is often labeled anti-democratic.

In 1987, when Pinochet re-legalized political parties, Jaime Guzmán and his followers registered their organization, "Nueva Democracia" ("New Democracy"), as the Independent Democrat Union, and participated in the plebiscite of 1988, supporting Pinochet. UDI announced that if the No were to win, "the terror and horrors of the years of Allende's government would return and Chile would fall into chaos."

After the "Yes" option was defeated and presidential elections were announced, the UDI joined National Renewal and formed the "Democracy and Progress" alliance ("Democracia y Progreso"). Hernan Büchi, the former Minister of Finances under Pinochet, ran for president for this alliance. The alliance also ran a common Parliament list. The UDI's option lost the 1989 presidential election, this time against the center-left Concertación's leader, the Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin.

However, in the congressional elections, Jaime Guzmán won a seat as Senator for Santiago, Chile, due to the binomial system. He actually in 3rd place, behind Christian Democrat Andrés Zaldívar and Party for Democracy leader Ricardo Lagos. The Concetación's combined vote total was less than twice that of Democracy and Progress', so the seats went to Zaldívar and Guzmá. The opposition to the binominal system uses this as an example of its unfairness.

In 1991, Jaime Guzmán was assassinated by members of the armed left-wing group Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front ("Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez"), after leaving his lecture of Constitutional Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He was replaced as senator by the National Renewal candidate for the same jurisdiction, Miguel Otero.

In 1993, after the political earthquake of a scandal known as "Piñeragate", that made impossible for National Renewal to launch a presidential candidate, the right-wing alliance (now known as Participation and Progress) chose as candidate the independent Arturo Alessandri Besa, a grandson of former President Arturo Alessandri Palma (1920-1925 and 1932-1938), and once again they lost, this time against the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, son of former President Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964–1970).

In 1998, when Pinochet was arrested in London, the UDI and National Renewal pressed the Frei government to return him to Chile.

In 1999, the UDI presidential candidate of the popular mayor of Las Condes, Joaquín Lavín. This time, they had to face the Socialist candidate Ricardo Lagos. In the first round, no candididate won the necessary 50% of the vote, so Lagos and Lavín had to go to a runoff, for the first time since the return to civilian rule. In the runoff, Lagos defeated Lavin by just 187,000 votes (2.6%).

In the 2001 parliamentary elections, the UDI won the largest number of seats in Congress, replacing the Christian Democrats. However, in the 2004 municipal elections, the UDI fared less well, losing many mayors and counselors.

In 2005, they selected Joaquín Lavín for presidential elections again, but National Renewal launched another candidate, the millionaire businessman Sebastián Piñera. Attempts to choose a single candidate for the right failed. Piñera defeated Lavín in the election, and there was a runoff between Piñera and the "Concertación" candidate, Michelle Bachelet. Lavín urged his supporters to vote for Piñera, whom he endorsed wholeheartedly. However, in the 2006 runoff, Piñera was defeated by Bachelet. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the UDI maintained their status as largest party in Congress.


The UDI is positioned in the right-wing of the Chilean political sprectrum. Their ideology combines the support for a liberal economy, with a minor participation of the State, with a conservative agenda in social issues. They are against abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. They defend most of the work of Pinochet during his government, such as the binominal system, the previsional system (Chile has a private system of social security), private health and education boom and until the 2005, the "authoritarian parts" of the Constitution (which were derogated in a Constitutional Reform).

However, although the party was formed under the wing of Pinochet, and their leader Jaime Guzmán was one of his most devoted supporters, the UDI started to move away from his figure, and decided to create an image of a "Popular Party", working intensively in the neighborhoods and the poorest districts. Fact|date=January 2008

They are the harshest critics of the current government coalition, the Concertación. In the last time, From the election of 1998, ideas about what the party should be, have turned into a social approach.


External links

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