On 25 October, Chileans voted to rewrite their country’s constitution. They also voted to have it written by a group of 155 persons to be elected for the purpose. That means that another election on the subject is coming in April. As the first accompanying reference from El Comercio (long-established legacy paper) reports, the option to re-write the constitution gained a convincing majority of votes, meaning that a wide gamut of the country’s political parties and ideological outlooks support the process.

The second reference is from El Nacional, an established news outlet based from Caracas. Perhaps its geographic distance from Santiago helped the writer provide us with a usefully balanced comment, but still from within the region. The commenter notes that all of Chile is involved, the pathway is complicated, and the results will be consequential. The next steps—setting up the vote to decide who will actually draft the new document, the efforts of the convention itself, and the follow-on process of public acceptance of whatever the convention comes up with—together make for a long steep slope, and one that should fascinate the entire region, if not the world.

…Chile decided to write a new Constitution…

Source: “Chile sepulta Constitición de Pinochet en un plebiscito nacido en la calle (Chile buries the Pinochet Constitution in a plebiscite born in the street),” El Comercio and EFE, 26 October 2020, https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/chile-constitucion-pinochet-plebiscitoprotestas.html

“This Sunday, 25 October 2020, in a plebiscite resulting from last year’s street protests, Chile decided to write a new Constitution and bury its current fundamental law…

Chileans voted overwhelmingly for ‘Approve’, (more than 78% of the votes), the option that opens a constituent process, and they elected that this be absolutely citizen-based, putting a constitutional convention in charge of writing the new Magna Carta, (79%), which will be composed of 155 persons elected by popular vote specifically for that purpose…

In spite of that [the pandemic], the participation rate was higher than 50%, the highest percentage since voting ceased to be obligatory in 2012…

The leftist opposition parties showed themselves to be entirely in favor of the change [in constitutions] while the four rightist parties that make up the governing coalition showed they were divided, among them those who defended against constitutional change to the end, and those who favored making a new fundamental text…”

…a decisive crossroad for all of the actors in this Chilean process…

Source: “La empinada cuesta de la Constitución chilena (The Chilean Constitution’s steep slope),” El Nacional and Editores Unidas, 3 November 2020. https://venezuelaunida.com/la-empinada-cuesta-de-la-constitucion-chilena/

…what happened with the referendum that took place a few days ago has been a decisive step toward the burying of the legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship and a very important one in favor of cementing institutionality, legitimacy and the will of the citizenry as the national sovereignty…

The process that begins in April 2021 with the election of members of the National Convention, which will have a limit of one year to birth a text, is really uncertain. This process will depend so much on political wisdom regarding what might be left of Chilean finances after having confronted the pandemic. Without economic strengthening, it will be impossible to talk about inclusive social measures, and that all has to come together so that the exercise of redacting a new Constitution is not a sterile one…

This is, then, a decisive crossroad for all of the actors in this Chilean process…the whole country and all its living forces will be put to the test.

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