The constitutional text that will be voted on this Sunday (4) in Chile determines a “social and democratic state of law” in contrast to the Constitution of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), which left education, health and other social issues in the hands of the market.
Below are the most sensitive changes proposed by the 178-page text, 388 articles and 57 transitional rules, which must be approved or rejected in a referendum by the country’s more than 15 million voters.
If the new constitutional text is approved, the rights and norms will be subject to the elaboration of complementary laws in Congress.
After the social upheaval of October 2019, the origin of the constituent process, a majority supported the demand for a change in the model that favored hyper-liberal economic policies supported by the 1980 Constitution.
The proposal describes Chile as a “social and democratic state of law”, which must provide goods and services to ensure people’s rights.
On the other hand, the 1980 Constitution establishes that the State must “contribute to creating the social conditions” for the fulfillment of people, but cannot participate in any business activity.
The current Constitution divides Congress between the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The latter can “improve” the work of deputies.
The proposal eliminates the Senate and creates two Chambers of “asymmetrical” power: a Congress of Deputies for the formulation of laws and a Chamber of Regions only for “regional agreement” laws, but far from having the weight that the Senate had until now.
Its detractors believe that this constitutes a risk of vetoing the opposition and that it will bring instability.
pensions and health
The draft Constitution proposes a National Universal Health System, a central issue in Chilean society, where the majority of the middle class pays high costs for health services.
Today, all formal workers must allocate 7% of their salary to Health. This amount can go 100% to the private sector, but this percentage does not cover the entirety of an illness, surgery or medication.
Only employees with the highest salaries can afford private plans, which are very expensive, and which 16% of the population use.
The new text establishes that mandatory health quotes are 100% destined for the public system and that additional private health plans can be contracted. Those who disqualify the new Constitution believe that this proposal will result in the collapse of the public health system, which serves 80% of the population.
In relation to pensions, since the 1980 Constitution, pensions depend exclusively on contributions made by the worker to private pension funds that pay pensions below the minimum wage of 400 dollars or 60% less than the last salary.
The proposal voted on Sunday proposes a public Social Security System, financed by workers and employers.
The proposed Constitution establishes the right to decent housing and that the State must guarantee that it includes basic services, an appropriate location and sufficient space, an aspect that aims to regulate social housing and the construction of so-called vertical ghettos, buildings with hundreds of apartments, narrow and overcrowded.
The country currently has a deficit of more than 500 thousand social housing and the new Constitution intends to guarantee the right to a home by increasing construction and with formulas to solve the problem of the homeless.
The 1980 Constitution protects “the life of the unborn”, although Chile decriminalized abortion in three situations in 2017.
In the new text, the influential feminist wave managed to include the right to “voluntary termination of pregnancy”, which, if approved, would place Chile at the forefront of the world in this matter.
The 1980 Constitution makes no reference whatsoever to indigenous peoples, who represent 12.8% of the Chilean population. The new text proposes autonomy for indigenous people, recognizing 11 peoples and nations, but does not allow for an attempt against the “unique and indivisible” character of the State of Chile.
Among the most controversial points is the recognition of indigenous legal systems, but with the exception that they must respect the Constitution, international treaties and that the Supreme Court will have the last word.
The new text offers a strong environmental focus, rated by international experts as a pioneer in recognizing the rights of nature, animals and the protection of water as a human right.
If approved, it will be the first Magna Carta in the world written in a parity convention that defines Chile as a “parity democracy”, where women will occupy at least 50% of the positions in the powers and organs of the State.
The proposal seeks to guarantee the conditions for the development of all people and overcome stigmas for patients with mental illnesses, including the rights to an autonomous life in favor of neurodiversity and neurodivergent people.