There are few female politicians of prominence within Chile, and yet Isabel Allende Bussi has found herself in the country's most powerful political position second only to President Michelle Bachelet.
After being sworn in this past March, she became the first woman to ever hold the Presidency of the Senate, evoking not only nostalgia in claiming a position her father once held from 1966 to 1969, but also re-affirming the political status the Allende family continues to hold in Chile.
Her nomination by the New Majority coalition is a powerful symbol of progress for a country who still mourns the 1973 coup and death thereof Allende's father with annual marches of remembrance every September 11th. Many foreign leaders have paid homage to Allende's father while on trips to Chile, acknowledging the former president's role in laying the foundation for relationships throughout the world. In 2011, students filled the streets to protest the need for education reform with signs of the former president -- hearkening back to pre-dictatorship era days when schooling was free.
In the five months Bachelet has been in office, Allende has proven herself a conduit of change in the Senate for the second-term president -- negotiating in the legislative chamber over 40 of the 56 measures Bachelet had promised to line up within her administration's first 100 days. The two have set their eyes on redacting Chile's controversial abortion ban by the end of 2014 (revoked as a result of Pinochet's reign), and by the end of 2018, replacing the Pinochet-era constitution, the country's pension system, tax codes, and education system, among other things.
One can't help but wonder whether Bachelet might attempt to convince Allende to run in 2018. A majority of her policies call to mind pre-coup ideals reminiscent of Allende's father, and perhaps the ultimate goal of wiping away any political influence remaining from the dictator who had deposed of Allende's father.
She has become one of the most influential politicians in Chile and provides leftists with name recognition -- unmatched by any other possible would be candidate. So much so, that she may be the only politician with enough clout to beat back a second term run from former President Sebastián Piñera if he decides on another presidential campaign.
At 69, Allende has spent decades in political life, first becoming a Deputy in 1994 in the lower house of Chile's Congress and later a Senator in 2010, and would be 73 if she were to run. But if Bachelet's campaign throughout the past year and a half recalled memories of the atrocities of Pinochet, due to the fact that Bachelet's father was killed during the coup and that her opponent Evelyn Matthei's father supported and even campaigned for Pinochet while he was in office, think about the narrative that would form if Allende were to run and the juxtaposition it would cause for the conservative party which has already struggled to distance itself from the coup and the looming shadow of Allende's father.
It might even force the United States to confront and recognize fully its role in the 1973 U.S. backed coup and the death of her father, which it has never acknowledged or apologized for.