December 7, 2022

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Chile constitution: Voters overwhelmingly reject radical change

A new constitution that was supposed to replace the one drafted during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military rule in Chile was decisively rejected by voters.

In a referendum, about 62% of participants rejected the progressive proposal.

Compared to what polls had predicted, the margin of defeat is substantially wider.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric, who had supported the new constitution, declared that he would collaborate with Congress and civil society to develop a “new constitutional process.”

He declared, “We have to heed the voice of the people,” who were dissatisfied with the constitutional convention’s proposition.

After widespread protests rocked Chile, which is typically seen as a haven of stability in the region, the process of revising the country’s constitution from the time of military control began three years ago.

In a referendum held in October 2020, about 80% of Chileans decided in favour of changing the outdated constitution.

However, many people found the new constitution, which was created by a constitutional convention whose members were chosen by voters, to be excessively radical.

It would have declared Chile a “plurinational” state, affirming the rights of Chile’s indigenous communities—which make up roughly 13% of the population—to their lands and resources.

Numerous Chilean institutions would have also been altered by the now-rejected draught, such as the Senate, which would have been replaced by a Chamber of Regions.

It also included important demands made by women’s organizations, such as the right to abortion and a legal requirement that women hold at least 50% of positions in official institutions.

According to analysts, because voting was required, voters who had even the slightest reservations about the text opted to reject it in the hope that a fresh version would turn out to be more appealing.

According to President Boric, to “incorporate the lessons of the process and win over a broad majority of individuals,” he would now like to produce a text.

However, it is not yet known how the revision process would work or how long it might take to create a new text.