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I’ve been an attentive observer of Chilean elections my whole professional life, and even after I quit being a pro. Sunday's headlines featured a rare time in the limelight for that country at the end of the world, as a referendum on a remarkably progressive constitution returned results that decisively rejected the draft: 38 percent Yes, 62 percent No.

What struck this long-time observer was the essential stability of the Chilean electorate over nearly three quarters of a century, transcending the long, brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1989), and even as the population of the country more than doubled.

Chile has long had clearly defined political tendencies of Right, Center and Left. The Right was traditionally dominated by the Conservative and Liberal parties, later to merge into the National Party. The Center was first dominated by the Radicals, and then by the Christian Democrats. The Left was basically the Communists and the Socialists. Presidential elections were typically won by the candidate who had the support of the Center, which would ally with either the Right or the Left. Referendum results would also tend to reflect either a Center-Left or Center-Right alliance. Consider these results:

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Sometimes alliances failed to form, and the parties and tendencies would be on their own. Presidential candidates would then win with a minority of the total vote:

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A detailed analysis of historical voting patterns could show that this apparent stability is illusory. But it sure looks striking: Left, Center and Right each have about a third of the electorate. When two of them combine, they prevail. And Pinochet couldn’t change that.