Jorge Alessandri
Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez (May 19, 1896 – August 31, 1986) was the 27th President of Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 from 1958 to 1964, and was the candidate of the Chilean right
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 in the crucial presidential election of 1970. He was the son of Arturo Alessandri, who was president from 1920 to 1925 and again from 1932 to 1938.

Early years

Born in Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

, Alessandri studied civil engineering
Civil engineering
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings...

 at the University of Chile in Santiago and after graduating in 1919 worked there as a lecturer. After the fall of the parliamentary republic, he lived in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

 with his parents from 1924-1925, but returned to his native land where he was elected to parliament as an independent from a Santiago constituency in 1926.

He withdrew from public life in 1932 to concentrate on business interests, becoming president of the mortgage bank
Mortgage bank
A Mortgage bank specializes in originating and/or servicing mortgage loans.A mortgage bank is a state-licensed banking entity that makes mortgage loans directly to consumers...

, Caja de Crédito Hipotecario until 1938 and running the Paper and Carton Manufacturing Company. From 1944 to 1947, he was chairman of the Chilean employers' confederation.

Return to politics

The early years of the right-wing Presidency of Gabriel González
Gabriel González Videla
Gabriel González Videla was a Chilean politician. He was a deputy and senator in the Chilean Congress and was President of Chile from 1946 to 1952...

 were marked by serious unrest between left and right-wing supporters, and on 2 August 1947 González named a cabinet of military officers and independents in a supposed attempt to depoliticise the situation. Alessandri was named Minister of Finance, where he reordered the system of administration and pursued a rigorous programme of austerity.

By 1950, he had restored order to the public finances and controlled inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

. However, his freezes of public sector
Public sector
The public sector, sometimes referred to as the state sector, is a part of the state that deals with either the production, delivery and allocation of goods and services by and for the government or its citizens, whether national, regional or local/municipal.Examples of public sector activity range...

 remuneration gradually led to greater industrial unrest. Public sector workers came out on strike at the end of January 1950, which rapidly turned into a broad opposition against the government's economic policies. Along with the rest of the cabinet, Alessandri resigned on 3 February, and returned to his role as president of the employers' confederation.

Senate and presidency

In 1956, the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Chile)
The Liberal Party of Chile was a Chilean political party created by a faction of pipiolos in 1849. After the conservative victory in the Chilean Civil War of 1829 the liberals became the principal opposition party to the Conservative Party...

 selected him as a candidate for a Santiago Senate
Senate of Chile
The Senate of the Republic of Chile is the upper house of Chile's bicameral National Congress, as established in the current Constitution of Chile.-Composition:...

 seat, which he won with a substantial majority in 1957. However, Alessandri was seen as rather conservative
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 by the Liberal Party, and in the end it was the moderate wing of the Conservative Party
Conservative Party (Chile)
The Conservative Party of Chile was one of the principal Chilean political parties since its foundation in 1836 until 1949, when it broke apart. In 1953 it reformed as the United Conservative Party and in 1966 joined with the Liberal Party to form the National Party...

 which secured his position as an independent candidate for the Presidency, with his campaign majoring on his economic expertise.

In March 1958, he edged the united left candidate for the Presidency, Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende Gossens was a Chilean physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America....

 by 32.2% to 28.5%, with Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva
Eduardo Frei Montalva
Eduardo Frei Montalva was a Chilean political leader of world stature. In his long political career, he was Minister of Public Works, president of his Christian Democratic Party, senator, President of the Senate, and president of Chile from 1964 to 1970...

 polling 20.5%. In the event of no candidate securing an overall majority of the popular vote, the choice of president fell to Congress
National Congress of Chile
The National Congress is the legislative branch of the government of the Republic of Chile.The National Congress of Chile was founded on July 4, 1811...

, which duly chose Alessandri, who had a coalition of Conservatives, Liberals and Radical Party
Radical Party (Chile)
The Radical Party of Chile was a Chilean political party. It was formed in 1863 by a split in the Liberal Party. Not coincidently, it was formed shortly after the organization of the Grand Lodge of Chile, and it has maintained a close relationship with Chilean Freemasonry throughout its life...

 congressmen behind him.

Alessandri initially focused, unsurprisingly, on economic issues, particularly on controlling inflation and balancing the state budget, and he liberalised Chile's tariff régime. However, he once again froze public sector pay, unleashing widespread industrial unrest.

In May 1960, a strong earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 struck the densely populated area between Concepción
Concepción, Chile
Concepción is a city in Chile, capital of Concepción Province and of the Biobío Region or Region VIII. Greater Concepción is the second-largest conurbation in the country, with 889,725 inhabitants...

 and Puerto Montt
Puerto Montt
Puerto Montt is a port city and commune in southern Chile, located at the northern end of the Reloncaví Sound in the Llanquihue Province, Los Lagos Region. The commune spans an area of and had a population of 175,938 in 2002. It is located 1,055 km to the south of the capital, Santiago...

, causing more than USD 400 million in damage. Reconstruction and relief soon drowned out other issues.

In 1961, elections to Congress saw massive losses for the Conservatives and Liberals, with the Radicals, alone of the coalition parties, doing well. This forced Alessandri to nominate more Ministers from the Radical Party, which in turned moved his government to the left. This tied in with the more activist foreign development policy pursued by John F Kennedy in the wake of the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

 of 1959, in the shape of the Alliance for Progress
Alliance for Progress
The Alliance for Progress initiated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 aimed to establish economic cooperation between the U.S. and South America.-Origin and goals:...

. Together, these unleashed a wave of progressive tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

 and agricultural
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 reforms. Despite this, distribution of land ownership remained grossly unequal.

Alessandri's period of office ended in 1964, and he was succeeded by his Christian Democrat opponent of 1958, the centist Eduardo Frei Montalva
Eduardo Frei Montalva
Eduardo Frei Montalva was a Chilean political leader of world stature. In his long political career, he was Minister of Public Works, president of his Christian Democratic Party, senator, President of the Senate, and president of Chile from 1964 to 1970...

. Alessandri returned to managing his paper factory.

Allende's election and Pinochet's dictatorship

In 1970, following the end of Frei's period in office, Jorge Alessandri sought election as President once again, with his main opponent Salvador Allende, just as in 1958. After another close contest, Allende emerged in front this time, by the narrow margin of 37.3% to 35.8%, with Christian Democrat Radomiro Tomić
Radomiro Tomic
Radomiro Tomic Romero was a Chilean politician of Croatian origin. He was one of the most prominent leaders of that country's Christian Democrat Party....

 polling 27.9% on polling day, 4 September. As in 1958, the election went to Congress, this time on 24 October. Although Congress placed a number of conditions on Allende such as his signature of a Statute of Constitutional Guarantees, promising not to undermine the Chilean Constitution, Alessandri lost the final vote by a decisive 153-35, with Tomic's Christian Democrats supporting Allende.

After the military coup of 11 September 1973 General Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

 seized power and formed a government, and in 1976 Alessandri was named President of a newly formed Council of State
Chilean Council of State
The Chilean Council of State was a body set up by the junta of General Augusto Pinochet to produce a constitution in order to legitimise military rule. The constitution which it produced was approved in a 1980 plebiscite....

 whose job was to create a new constitution
Constitution of Chile
In its temporary dispositions, the document ordered the transition from the former military government, with Augusto Pinochet as President of the Republic, and the Legislative Power of the Military Junta , to a civil one, with a time frame of eight...

. The Council of State's draft constitution was edited by the Junta. Alessandri did not agree with some of the Junta's authoritarian amendments and resigned from the Council. The constitution was approved in a national plebiscite held in September 1980 and came into force in March 1981. During the campaign, Alessandri declared he would vote "Yes", despite his disagreements with the Junta.

Final years

After this, Jorge Alessandri once more withdrew into private life, now for the last time, living rather peacefully in his apartment in the center of Santiago. He continued to be chairman of the board
Chairman of the Board
The Chairman of the Board is a seat of office in an organization, especially of corporations.Chairman of the Board may also refer to:*Chairman of the Board , a 1998 film*Chairmen of the Board , a 1970s American soul music group...

 of a paper factory until his death in Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 in 1986. He did not survive to see end of the junta
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

 and the return of Chile to democracy.

His nephew Arturo Alessandri Besa
Arturo Alessandri Besa
Arturo Alessandri Besa is a Chilean lawyer and politician. Alessandri was member of his country's Chamber of Deputies and also of the National Congress; he also was candidate for the presidency of Chile in the 1993 elections....

 stood as Presidential candidate for the right-wing Alianza in 1993, losing to the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle is a Chilean politician and civil engineer who was President of Chile from 1994 to 2000. He is currently Senator for Los Ríos and was President of the Senate from 2006 to 2008. He attempted a comeback as the candidate of the ruling Concertación...

 of the Concertación center-left coalition.

See also

  • Alessandri family
    Alessandri family
    The Alessandri family of Chile is of Italian origin, became politically influential during the early part of the 20th century, and has played a significant role in Chilean politics. The first Alessandri who came to Chile was named Giuseppe Pietro Alessandri Tarzi...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.