One of the main problems with growth is that it hurts. Not just physical pain, as some teenagers experience when their joints and bones grow. It also hurts emotionally, through hormonal changes, disappointments and the inevitable disappointment that comes from interactions and work with others. But it prepares us for future challenges, teaches us to plan and trust lucidly, and to learn about our own limits.
This little story seems to be the perfect analogy to describe the process in which the Frente Amplio finds itself today. A hundred days after becoming the most successful far-left coalition since the return to democracy, it finds itself entangled in its own unforced errors.
Unlike the former Concertación and its heiress, Nueva Mayoría, forged from the eaves of experienced politicians who were part of their career before the dictatorship and in clandestinity, the FA grows from the universities. The student movement, for years, was co-opted by the Concertación, which was very efficient in keeping leftist organizations at bay and fostering their internal divisions. For this reason, the recent suspension of the FECh president and the freezing of relations between the two main actors in the FA, the Autonomist Movement of Boric and the Democratic Revolution of Jackson, are symptomatic of the immaturity shown by their sector.
That same immaturity led them to make a hasty constitutional accusation against the Minister of Health, which was quickly dismissed by the Chamber of Deputies for it not complying with formal requirements. The precocious act was to try to show vigilante force before even talking to the other opposition forces. The FA, like any teenager, still does not learn the need for coordination and teamwork. It still has not overcome its own individuality.
The learning shown by their most visible faces – Boric, Jackson, Mirosevic – does not seem to have reached the foundations of the conglomerate. The new congressmen are uncoordinated and more likely to mobilize individual causes than a large political agenda. This is what the government should see as an opportunity. The FA has a number of key votes that can weaken the Executive’s initiatives. For this reason, the negotiation has to go directly to some members of the coalition, at least during the adolescence of the bloc.
The FA has a small window of opportunity. The first 100 days served to stretch its muscles and test its own strength. But now that the excitement of victory is dissipating, it’s time to learn from its own limitations. If not, it will be like those football players who never cease to be an eternal promise.