Chile's military gives civilians an inch - but they want a mile. Centrist political parties, banding together for strength, say Pinochet liberalizations and 1990 vote are not enough
The door to civilian rule in Chile has opened a crack - and suddenly there is an unrelenting clamor for the door to swing wide open. ''We are in this to put an end to military rule,'' says Gabriel Valdes Subercaseaux, head of the new Alianza Democratica, an amalgam of six political parties that have joined forces in opposition to the military government.
Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet Ugarte clearly has no intention of giving up power. But as the 10-year anniversary of military rule approached last month, Pinochet, under pressure, agreed to give civilians a modicum of influence in government.
He named a new, largely civilian Cabinet and held out the prospect of a national plebiscite on the issue of holding congressional elections before the scheduled date of 1990. Beyond this, he eased censorship, promised to legalize political parties by next year, and allowed some 3,000 civilians to return from exile.
These concessions do not satisfy Alianza, however. Flushed with their recent gains and the upsurge of political debate here, they are not giving up on a speedier return to civilian rule.
''It is not enough,'' Mr. Valdes says, ''for the government to suggest holding a plebiscite to amend the Constitution to hold congressional elections before 1990 as scheduled. There has to be more.''
Alianza wants Pinochet to step down before 1989, the date set for his term to end under the nation's new constitution. The group is not calling for his immediate resignation, however. It knows that is too much to ask.
At the moment, Alianza is the key force of political opposition. Its leadership is largely centrist and is dominated by the Christian Democrats, Chile's largest political party. The group does not include the far right or the far left.
Christian Democratic influence in Alianza may slip a bit in October as Hugo Zepeda of the Republican Right assumes the Alianza presidency for a month. Mr. Zepeda tends to be closer to the Pinochet government than other members of the Alianza. But the emphasis on a legitimate dialogue with the government - and the broad Alianza tone set by the Christian Democrats - will continue.
Other political groups, including two on the left, are forming, too. But there is no current plan for them to be included in any dialogue with the government.
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