The Chileans voted Sunday by a very strong majority in favor of a new citizens’ constitution. “Until now, the Constitution has divided us. From today, we must all collaborate so that the new Constitution is a space of unity, stability and the future ”, declared the head of state the conservative president Sebastian Piñera.
Organized a year after a massive popular uprising against social inequalities, this referendum came down to whether or not to replace the text inherited from the Augusto Pinochet era (1974-1990).
According to almost final results covering more than 99% of the polling stations, the votes in favor of a new Constitution largely won with 78.28% of the votes, against 21.72% for the vote rejecting this option. Turnout stands at around 50%, according to the electoral authority. A rate similar to that of the last presidential elections.
The party on the “Place de la dignité”, one year later
Tens of thousands of euphoric demonstrators gathered in several squares in the capital Santiago, including Plaza Italia, the epicenter of the protest, to celebrate the victory.
“We are celebrating a victory in this place more worthy than ever! Enthusiastically Graciela Gonzalez, a 35-year-old saleswoman, amid the chants, firecrackers and honking.
A year ago to the day, the protest against inequalities had taken a turn when 1.2 million people gathered in this emblematic square, renamed “Place de la dignité”. Replacing the Constitution inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet was one of the demands of the demonstrations launched from October 18, 2019 to demand a more just society. “I never imagined that we Chileans would be able to unite for such a change! ”, Ignited Maria Isabel Nuñez, 46, who came to the square hand in hand with her 20-year-old daughter.
Until the outbreak of the crisis, Chile was considered one of the most stable countries in Latin America, praised for its macroeconomic performance. To this national crisis was added the Covid-19 pandemic which hit Chile hard (500,000 contaminations, 14,000 deaths).
A text written only by citizens
The draft Constitution will be submitted to a referendum in 2022. But in concrete terms, how will the drafting process take place? There too, a vote was scheduled. And in the same proportions, the option of a “Constituent Convention” formed solely of citizens won by 79% of the votes, against 21% for a “Mixed Convention” made up of citizens and parliamentarians.
The victory of the “Apruebo” (“I approve”) means “the abandonment once and for all of the shadow of dictatorship in the institutional domain”, analyzes Marcelo Mella, a political scientist from the University of Santiago. For him, the choice of the Chileans to rely on a citizens’ Constituent Convention to draft the future Constitution represents “the triumph of the people for the people in a democracy. […] which, for three decades, has been built on a discourse of stability at the cost of a withdrawal of sovereignty from the people ”.
The end of a text designed by and for the conservatives
For supporters of the “Apruebo”, mainly in the opposition of the center and the left, a new constitution will remove an essential obstacle to deep social reforms in one of the most unequal countries in Latin America.
The current fundamental law severely limits the action of the state and promotes private activity in all sectors, including education, health and pensions. The defenders of the “Rechazo” (“I reject”), who bring together the most conservative parties, considered that it was possible to introduce changes in the fundamental law, which they believed had guaranteed the stability of Chile in recent decades, without need to replace it.
To date, no attempt to replace the Basic Law has been successful. Constitutionalists agree that the text was drafted so that the conservative fringes of society could remain in power, including after the end of the dictatorship.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr