Chile enters into a new constituent process

Chili enters from this Wednesday in his second attempt in two years to change the Constitution that has ruled since the dictatorship, this time with the extreme right at the head of the council who will draw up a new project to be submitted to a referendum.

in this span Chileans moved from one end of the political spectrum to the other. First, in the heat of the social outbreak of 2019, they gave their support to the leftist forces to bury the remains of the inheritance of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

However, they later rejected the constitutional proposal at the polls. The parties agreed to relaunch the process and In May, in the elections for the new constituents, the citizenry leaned towards an ultra-conservative right wing that was nostalgic for the days of the dictator.

Hence the uncertainty regarding the text that will emerge from this phase of deliberations and that should replace the Constitution of 1980, whose most authoritative articles have already been eliminated through reforms in recent years. For example, the one that outlawed the Communist Party or the one that reserved seats in the Senate for former military chiefs, former judges, or a former university rector. On December 17, Chileans will have to pronounce on the new result.

An eventual rejection would leave the rules as they are at a time when this country of almost 20 million inhabitants, with a wide gap between rich and pooris more concerned about insecurity or the cost of living than about a change in norms, according to opinion studies.

more moderate text

The Constitutional Council is installed this Wednesday to examine the draft drafted by experts appointed by Congress. the text is a more moderate version from the one that emanated from the first attempt and which was rejected by 61% of the voters.

The Constituent Assembly then dominated by the left proposed a radical change in the political, legislative and judicial system. Among others, it established the right to abortion and granted constitutional recognition to indigenous peoples.

Composed of 51 members, the new Constitutional Council has a large conservative majority. Twenty-three councilors are from the ultra-conservative Republican Party and 11 from traditional right-wing coalitions. The left obtained 16 seats and an indigenous representative joined.

“In the previous process there was no group with a clear majority, and that unclear majority ended in all the groups contributing different parts to the same proposal,” explained Marcel Aubry, an academic at the University of Chile’s School of Government.

In the new attempt “we have a clear majority from a political sector that will be able to promote their ideas more effectively,” he added.

The left is realistic and anticipates that the new framework under discussion will incorporate few transformations with respect to the current Constitution. “My expectations are measured, mainly because I see how the right and the extreme right are going to defend the interests of the big oligarchies and protect the neoliberal economic model,” said communist adviser Fernando Viveros.

An Opus Dei leader

How will the Republicans behave? In Parliament, where they do not have the same representation, they rejected laws such as the reduction of the work week to 40 hours, the increase in the minimum wage and taxes on large copper miners.

Opposed to abortion, with an anti-immigrant discourse and focused on public safety, they have the lawyer Luis Silva as the main reference in this process.

45 years old, Silva, a tenured member of Opus Deithe influential ultra-conservative Catholic organization, embraces the principles of austerity, chastity and absolute obedience.

University professor of law, he was the most voted candidate of the Council. He recently raised controversy by calling Pinochet a “statesman.”

With their 23 representatives, Republicans can veto articles approved by experts. And if they manage to annex votes from the traditional right, they can also modify them.

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