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H.1. Challenging Authoritarianism, Neoliberalism, Corruption and Misspending 2011-2014

Volume Two -> H. Campaigns Against Government -> H.1. Challenging Authoritarianism, Neoliberalism, Corruption and Misspending 2011-2014

The student-led protests in Chile in 2011-12 were hailed as the most significant movement in Chile since the resistance to General Pinochet in the 1980s, and were a direct challenge to Pinochet’s legacy of neoliberalism, involving privatization (including of higher education) and profound inequalities, enshrined in the 1981 Pinochet Constitution.

There were in 2013-2014 significant protests in terms of both duration and scale in three countries which are formally democratic (regular multiparty elections in which the conduct and outcome is not seriously challenged), but are in varying degrees corrupt, authoritarian, or both. In Bulgaria the protesters demanded the resignation of governments, and in Turkey targeted the role of the prime minister; in both protesters also challenged the nature of the political regime. But in Brazil protests were directed against aspects of the regime and socio-economic system, rather than the Socialist government in power.

Opposition to corruption was one of the important issues behind the Bulgarian protests and became a major focus in Turkey by 2014, and was also one target of the Brazilian demonstrations.

Poverty, deep social and economic inequalities and the power of big business, have been other motives for mass agitation. In Bulgaria the spark was the doubling of electricity bills in the city of Blagoevgrad; and anger at the impact of neoliberal economic policies and government support for corporations motivated demonstrators in Turkey and Brazil. In both these countries a related issue was government commitment to major urban or sporting projects, at the expense of the local inhabitants.

The protests in Turkey and, especially, Bulgaria, where students became central in the final stage, had similarities with the earlier Chilean resistance to neoliberalism.