Case Study: Convergencia Social, Chile

Convergencia Social (CS, "Social Convergence") is one of Chile's new movement-based parties. Emerging from a student movement which burst into Chilean society in 2011, CS has had a strong focus on party system reforms, advancing feminism, and expanding free and quality public education. Like many movement-based parties, CS has tried to maintain close ties with allied social movements, but has struggled with how to integrate these movements within its institutional structure.


Since its founding, CS has had worked to expand its identity in order to attract more political support. As a result, CS has shifted its image from a student-driven movement to a party that is perceived primarily as representing young people and women in particular. Its close affiliation with the feminist, youth, and other movements is the core of the party’s identity; however, CS faces as broadening its support base and appealing to other groups could dilute its core identity.


To balance these needs, CS incorporates traditional organizational mechanisms with innovations designed to encourage greater deliberation. Like many other parties, CS is governed by a deliberative Central Committee and a National Directorate, which makes executive decisions. But in addition to these traditional structures, CS incorporates five “political fronts” into its internal party organization. The so-called "political fronts" are a unique aspect of CS. Defined as "foundations for participation, deployment and sectoral action of the party… their objective is the action and linkage with social and political organizations at the national and local level" in their areas of work. Each of these fronts (health, individuals of diverse genders and sexualities, students, workers, and feminists) provide spaces to foster action, discuss and propose policies, and build connections with other movement actors. In this way, the fronts create an intersectional space for the movements to convene within the CS institution and, through their presence on Party bodies, influence policy.

CS has made a particular effort to build relationships with women and the feminist movement. The Party has stipulated strict requirements for gender parity, both in terms of internal leadership and as official candidates. CS also launched an initiative called Abrecamino which promotes female leadership—both as party members and as candidates—by developing workshops, talks, and training processes exclusively for women who aspire to develop leadership within the party. As a reflection of this commitment, the first two presidents of the party have been women and its top leadership are women.


Among MBPs, CS has proven able to build a robust party mechanism while remaining closely tied to various allied movements. Its adoption of "fronts" as a modality of party management allows direct political action while providing a mechanism for institutional advocacy. While it aspires to retain its roots in social movements, however, broadening its base beyond its core constituencies remains a challenge.
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