CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Deepening democracy: civil society in Chile

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 31, 2011

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index Analytical Country Report from our partner in Chile. The project was implemented in Chile by Fundacion Soles, with sponsorship from the Bicentennial Commission.

In general terms, the CSI Diamond for Chile’s civil society showed moderate values for most of the ‘internal’ dimensions (Civic Engagement, Level of Organisation, Practice of Values and Perception of Impact), corresponding to a medium level of development. The score for the External Environment, on the other hand, suggests a more favorable arena for the advancement of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

Chile reports that it seems now to have passed the stage of democratic transition, and has strengthened mechanisms for formal elections and internal auditing. In general terms, it is an organised state with levels of corruption under control. Despite the weaknesses that remain from the previous coup d‘état and a dictatorship, civil society has had relative success in the process of associative reconstruction. New organisations, many of them based on information and communication technologies, have opened new spaces of citizen participation. However, the internal inequality of Chile’s civil society is one of the greatest challenges to the consolidation of a sustainable civil society and, in turn, a more profound and deeper democracy. To the degree to which it is possible, Chile’s civil society is looking for a space in general society, and is trying to create alliance mechanisms with the state and the market, without ceasing to offer an authentic, autonomous and credible voice.

In the regional and national workshops which formed part of the CSI project, participants discussed key strengths of Chilean civil society, which include diversity among CSOs, the high commitment of most civil society representatives, the creation of networks with the support of ICT and, especially, the local impact of CSOs. The main weaknesses identified by participants included civil society’s capacity to promote training, challenges associated with civic education for society at large, and limited capacity to implement competitive and sustainable projects or to improve external cohesion. Participants also formed a number of recommendations which are made in the report. For example, in order to improve external cohesion, one suggestion was to create a training space to help civil society leaders and representatives define themselves and the sector as a third party, deserving of conditions equal to those of the state and the private sphere.

To read the full report, click here

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