Chile: Mass closure of the Approval campaign fuels hopes of a change in the Constitution

From Santiago

A crowd that paralyzed the entire Alameda de Santiago between Plaza Baquedano (renamed “Dignidad”) and La Moneda marked the end of the campaign for the “I approve”, where already at 8:00 p.m. (Argentina 21) there were almost 300 thousand people in a festive atmosphere. various social groups accompanied by music they demonstrated by the end of the AFP (administrators of pension funds that for decades have profited from savings for old age), in favor of the original towns and the environment.

That is part of the contents that will be played this Sunday September 4 where the citizens will demonstrate about the New Constitution that would replace the 1980 one that, since the Pinochet dictatorship, although with modifications and reforms, continues to govern the lives of Chileans.

A milestone that will close a long process initiated by the peace agreement of November 2019 where former President Sebastián Piñera accepted the change of the Magna Carta, through an “entry” plebiscite that would lead to the election of 155 constituents in a Convention with seats for indigenous and parity peoples. It was the only possible way outSocial Outburst”. The biggest crisis since the return to democracy, which began a month earlier and which left in the collective memory the police violence shooting hundreds of demonstrators in the eyesseveral subway stations on fire (to this day it is not known who did it) and more than a million people protesting in the street, only in Santiago, shocked the trans-Andean country.

Under an environment of Polarization, dominated by disinformation installed by right wing groups but also because of the high diffusion of the constitutional text that became a best-seller in bookstores and distributed free in various locations, both options were closed at around 7:00 p.m. The contrast is impressive: only about 400 people demonstrated for the “Rejection” in the Metropolitan Park waving Chilean flags and with an atmosphere described as “family”, the “Apruebo” is crowded with shows by musicians like Anita Tijoux and Inti Illimani opening the show, with fainting included due to the crowding.

Assault on Simón Boric, brother of the president

A little earlier there had been incidents that included an attack on the brother of President Gabriel Boric, Simon, journalist by profession, by a mob of young people who pounced on him in a confused confrontation outside the University of Chile where he worked (a few steps from La Moneda palace). Something that made it hospitalized and there were four detainees, and it was condemned almost unanimously and that caused the president himself to visit him.

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The conundrum of compulsory voting

Something that does not stop drawing attention considering that practically all the polls gave the first option as the winner, something that would not be demonstrated at least in the streets. Hence the complexity of predicting what will happen this Sunday, but there are at least two pieces of information to consider: after a decade the vote will be mandatory again (these would be more than 15 million qualified people, those who do not attend will be fined) and the locals voting stations were changed for those closest to the voter, avoiding situations such as in the last presidential elections where thousands of people had to take public locomotion, which, curiously, was scarce that day.

“The compulsory voting can mean that a large number of low-income people participate, for the first time, in an election. The data is clear: in the last elections the participation in the poorest communes has been much lower than those with higher incomes. For example, in 2021, 50% of voters voted in La Pintana and 73% in Vitacura. In 2017, in Lo Espejo it paid 44% and in Las Condes, 66%. Will there be changes in this behavior? researcher Andrés Scherman points out in an article for Ciper where he questions the classic methodologies of surveys.

A 21st century constitution

The Chilean constitutional process has generated interest worldwide. Actors such as Mark Ruffalo called for “turning the page on Pinochet’s years of cruelty”, Susan Sarandon said that this Magna Carta is “a road map for the rest of the world”, media analysts such as the Guardian has pointed out that “it is a constitution for the 21st century and that the US should follow this example” and dozens of intellectuals such as Mariana Mazzucato and Thomas Piketti.

This is because the text has as its pillars the environment, feminism, indigenous peoples and diversity, in addition to delving into basic citizen rights. Although its detractors have found from spelling errors to too “radical” changes such as the elimination of the Senate, the text was described in an unbeatable way by Michelle Bachelet, it is like the song by Pablo Milanés that says “it’s not perfect / it’s closer to what that I always dreamed of.”

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