Creating public arenas when the state is absent: post-dictatorship energy process in Chile

Authors: Roxana Borquez*, King College London, Frans Berkhout, King's College London, Anthony Pereira, King's College London
Topics: Energy, South America, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Energy transitions, public arenas, market economy, Chile, environmental conflicts
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Evergreen, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The transition towards more participatory approaches in policymaking is complex in post-dictatorship democracies. They combine rules, structures and economic models established in an authoritarian regime, and pacts and negotiations, strong power relations, historical and cultural contexts, inequalities, and activation of social movements. How public arenas are created in these contexts and, who leads and makes them up, are questions which contribute to a better understanding of energy transitions in the global south. Chile is a market economy based on the extraction of natural resources. The dictatorship (1973-1989) imposed a process of privatization of these resources. As a result, the private sector has dominated decisions in fields such as energy. This paper explores the Chilean energy sector during the post-dictatorial transition, a process where civil society organisations have increasingly come to play new roles in influencing and changing the political agenda. The paper analyses how business and political elites came under pressure, how new political strategies to deal with the conflict have been created, and how new public arenas for deliberation were created. A striking feature of these arenas is that the state/government is almost absent. The results show that environmental organisations have come to play a decisive role in the energy field, increasing a feeling of energy crisis and establishing a need for dialogue between the private sector, civil society organizations and academia, creating new deliberative public arenas: energy scenarios 2030. In the process, environmental organisations have occupied new spaces beyond the political sphere or institutional framework.

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