Why Chilean Voters Rejected a New, Progressive Constitution


After a year-long drafting and negotiation course of, Chilean voters on Sunday rejected a brand new structure that was hailed as one of the crucial democratic and leftist paperwork on the planet. The defeat—which noticed practically 62% of voters reject the doc, in comparison with 38% who backed it—was a political blow to the nation’s 36-year-old President Gabriel Boric.

Boric, who had thrown appreciable weight behind the brand new structure, stated the outcomes confirmed that Chileans “weren’t glad with the constitutional proposal that the conference introduced.” He has vowed to draft another text and draw on classes realized following its failure.

Whereas polling had lengthy steered Chileans would reject the brand new structure, most wish to substitute the present structure—which former dictator Augusto Pinochet launched in 1980. Critics say the Pinochet-era structure has entrenched a neoliberal financial mannequin—which promotes free market capitalism and deregulation—that has led to main inequality.

In 2019, public frustration over inequality bubbled over following a proposed subway fare hike, with 3 million people taking to the streets in mass protests. To quell what grew to become referred to as the “social explosion,” the federal government initiated the method of changing Pinochet’s structure with a brand new textual content.

The proposed draft—a results of greater than a 12 months of negotiations and drafting by 154 elected delegates—was meant to scrap a structure many noticed as a roadblock to reform the political and financial techniques put in place by Pinochet. However critics argued that the draft doc—comprising 388 articles—went too far, enshrining an extended checklist of unworkable rights and equalities in legislation that may scare off traders and result in chaos.

Learn Extra: Gabriel Boric on Leading Chile and Updating Its Constitution

These included rights to free speech, abortion, clear air and water, a publicly-funded nationwide well being service, and equitable political {and professional} illustration for minorities. These protections had been backed by many citizens, says Gabriel Negretto, a politics professor at Pontifical Catholic College of Chile (PUC). “Chileans have lengthy criticized the shortage of entry to housing, good healthcare, training, and pensions,” he says. “That has been a relentless for a few years, and the social explosion of 2019 merely made it seen.”

The issue with the draft was much less the content material, explains Kenneth Bunker, a political analyst and head of polling consultancy Politico Tech International, and extra the drafting course of itself. Some Chileans argue that the delegates weren’t consultant of Chilean society—the bulk got here from left-wing political blocs or independents with an analogous political bend. Quotas ensured Indigenous participation within the course of proportionate to the inhabitants measurement—but these delegates didn’t characterize the extra conservative opinions of many Indigenous Chileans, Bunker says.

The misconduct of a number of the elected delegates, misinformation, and deliberate attempts by right-leaning delegates to delay proceedings additionally undermined public belief within the course of.

The political and financial atmosphere surrounding the rewrite additionally harm the structure’s possibilities, Bunker says. Inflation is at a 28-year high, the peso’s worth at an all-time low, and violent crime is surging in Chile, with Boric’s approval score now at 38%. “There’s a sensation that every part’s going improper,” Bunker says. Rejecting the draft structure was extra of a “punishment vote” directed at Boric, he provides, reasonably than the textual content itself.

The financial crises affecting Chile might distract Boric from the constitutional course of going ahead, the PUC’s Negretto says. “Boric has a lot time left in his [presidential term], and there are numerous issues to resolve … is the federal government going to place all its vitality into a brand new course of? Or will it save its time and sources to resolve different issues within the nation?”

Learn Extra: Chile Is Trying To Shed the Last Remnants of Its Pinochet-Era Dictatorship

But when Boric manages to persuade voters and lawmakers alike that one other constitutional rewrite is crucial to addressing key points, he may flip the rejection round in his favor. “He now has the chance to begin from scratch,” Bunker says. A future try may draw on the optimistic components of the outdated structure and new concepts, Bunker provides.

Previous to the vote, Boric said {that a} new rewriting course of would “proceed by the phrases determined by the individuals of Chile,” within the case that it was rejected. Elections shall be known as for a brand new meeting of delegates to start the process from scratch, however it’s unclear how lengthy it is going to take.

Finally, what many citizens might care about is the symbolism {that a} recent structure would carry. About 60% of the present structure is made up of amendments, making it fairly completely different from when it was unveiled beneath Pinochet. “It’s not the Pinochet structure, but we nonetheless really feel that it’s,” Bunker says. “It’s a query of the legitimacy of its origin.”

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