Originally baptised as the Chilean Winter, the student movement in Chile has demonstrated that it is far from being the consequence of a seasonal emancipating spirit. After four months of continuous and massive protests for the establishment of a fair and integrated educational system, the movement has achieved what no political party or political leader could in the last twenty years. It has placed at the centre of discussion the need of structural and profound transformations to an educational system created during the neoliberal experiment of Augusto Pinochet. Furthermore, it has put in serious doubt the legitimacy of the whole institutional apparatus contained in a Constitution drafted during the dictatorship and which is still in force.
There are a number of reasons that explain the strength and perseverance of this movement. Perhaps the most relevant is the fatigue of the institutional system. The 1980 Constitution set the foundations of the Chilean political and economical institutions. From a political perspective the Constitution created a unique binominal electoral system which established the conditions for an uneven distribution of parliamentary seats between the two major political coalitions. Since the recovery of democracy in 1990, this distribution has not reflected the real vote of the people. In practical terms, the system has allowed right wing parties to control half of the seats although their real vote has been little more than third of the electorate.