Written by León Lanis V. , Paralegal
On the 4th of September 2022, Chile went to the polls, for a vote in which they were asked to approve or reject the New Constitution proposal made by the Constitutional Convention. The process leading up to the vote was not short of controversies and division in the country. By the end of the day, the “rechazo” option had won in a landslide with 61.86% of the votes.
Why was the proposal rejected?
Many commentators believe that the changes proposed were too radical for the Chilean population, and included many divisive ideas. In addition, the process itself of drafting the proposal was full of controversies that served to further undermine the public’s trust and faith in the document. Many people in Chile believe that the rejection of such a proposal was an opening door for a more representative Constitutional project.
As we’ve detailed in previous posts, the proposal had many changes to the actual political system of Chile. The most radical of the proposals included the creation of a plurinational nation, different legal systems applications for indigenous cultures of Chile, a single chamber in the Parliament, and the strengthening of social property. The plebiscite proved that these proposals were unpopular among the Chilean citizens, with the “apruebo” vote winning in only 8 communes of the country.
What happens next?
With the proposal rejected, there are many scenarios for what may happen in the future. These include:
1. A new Constitutional Convention:
Many political sectors, primarily those nearer to the President, are calling for new elections of a new Constitutional Convention, made fully by elected representatives, saving seats for indigenous representatives and full gender parity.
Recently, sectors from the left and right are discussing this idea. Many experts believe this is the most likely outcome.
2. An Experts Commission:
Other political sectors believe that a new Convention would represent a huge loss of money for taxpayers, thus, they’ve proposed the creation of a Commission made fully by constitutional experts, very similar to how the 1980s Constitution was drafted.
Although this has also been a very popular option, there is a lack of agreement between the political parties, particularly as to how the experts would be selected.
3. Reforms to the 1980s Constitution:
Many political figures which campaigned for the rejection of the proposal believe that the best option is just the continuation of the 2005 amendments of the 1980s Constitution.
This is a very unpopular opinion amongst politicians and the Chilean society, for it would be a very political and long process.
4. No changes:
A few politicians of the former right wing presidential candidate José Antonio Kast’s party have already stated that they will not be part of further constitutional changes, for they believe that the actual constitution is enough to solve all social problems presented by the 2019 social unrest. This position has been widely criticized by almost every political sector and as such realistically it is very unlikely to move forward.
The outcome of the elections essentially means that the future of the Chilean Constitution remains an open question. Negotiations continue in Congress amongst different political sectors to settle on an option. With this in mind, SERVEL, the Chilean elections authority, has advised that there will not be any further plebiscites for at least the remainder of this year.
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