Chile votes on the country’s new Constitution; understand the text proposals and why it will possibly fail | World

Chile votes on the country’s new Constitution; understand the text proposals and why it will possibly fail | World
Chile votes on the country’s new Constitution; understand the text proposals and why it will possibly fail | World

In 2020, nearly 80% of the country’s voters decided they wanted a new constitution drafted. That vote came a year after violent protests against inequality rocked the country.

Chile goes to the polls to write new constitution

But support has dropped, and polls show voters are more likely to reject the new text.

The political agreement for the writing of a new Constitution establishes that, in case of rejection of the text, the current Magna Carta will continue in force. The current text was drafted during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but reformed dozens of times after the return to democracy.

The proposed constitution, written by predominantly independent and progressive lawmakers, is readily available on the street, online or in podcast format. With a focus on social rights and the environment, it is a marked change from the current market-oriented Constitution dating back to the Augusto Pinochet era.

2 of 2 Voting ballot in Chile’s plebiscite on the country’s new Constitution — Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP

Voting ballot in Chile’s plebiscite on the country’s new Constitution — Photo: Martin Bernetti/AFP

What happens if Chileans reject the new Constitution?

If the text is not approved, the current Constitution, from the time of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, will continue to apply. However, there is an understanding in Chile that the text is no longer compatible with current Chilean society.

If the new Constitution is rejected, Congress may convene a new Constituent Assembly with a smaller number of representatives and be tasked with writing a more succinct text in a shorter period of time.

Below are some of the changes that the new text brings:

Half of the Constituent Assembly is made up of women, and in the text of the Charter, Chile is defined as a parity democracy. In other words, the positions of government bodies must have half of women, and the State must act to guarantee gender equality.

The Constitution also defines the country as a plurinational and intercultural state. 11 peoples and nations are recognized (such as Mapuche, Quechua, Aymara and others). The regions of these indigenous nations will have administrative autonomy and will also have their own legal systems, which will be characteristic of each nation (there are caveats: this justice of indigenous nations will need to respect the Constitution itself and also international treaties). The Supreme Court of Chile will make decisions regarding these justice systems of indigenous nations.

In 2017, the Supreme Court allowed abortion in cases of inviability of the fetus, risk of death of the woman and pregnancy resulting from rape.

The text of the proposed Constitution recognizes “sexual and reproductive rights” and determines that the State must guarantee the conditions for a voluntary termination of pregnancy.

Retirement and healthcare

The new text determines that the State must provide goods and services to ensure people’s rights.

The new Constitution establishes a public Social Security System, financed by mandatory contributions.

The text also proposes the creation of a national health system, which will have a budgetary allocation.

Changes in the political system

The minimum age for a person to assume the presidency becomes 30 years old (today it is 35). The reelection of the president is authorized.

The text ends with the Senate, but establishes a new Chamber, which will be for the different regions of the country.

Polls indicate defeat in the referendum

Polls published a week before the referendum point to the proposal’s failure. All polls put the rejection option ahead of voting intentions, with percentages reaching 56% and an advantage over approval between 4 and 12 percentage points.

The polls also show a large percentage of undecided people (from 10 to 15%), and in the streets there is a mobilization in favor of the approval of the text.

Analysts explain the upside of the rejection by multiple factors, including a slowing economy, a tense political environment and a successful campaign by opponents of the new Charter.

The article is in Portuguese

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