Referendum in Chile: Last chance to change Pinochet’s constitution

Much like the movie “Caught in Time,” Chileans have endured the last few years of back-and-forth over whether or not they should change the constitution. This Sunday they will meet again to vote to, as the majority hopes, conclude a long process aimed at amending the so-called “Pinochet Constitution” by voting “for” or “against” a new draft.

The document worked on by the Constitutional Council, made up of a commission of experts and a technical admissibility committee appointed by Parliament, was responsible for this new version, which may or may not see the light of day this Sunday.

It is important to remember that the first proposal of the Constitutional Convention, whose members were elected by popular vote, was rejected by 62% of Chileans in September 2022, representing a hard blow to the presidential government. Gabriel Boric who had openly expressed his support for the proposal.

Today, none of the representatives of either option are talking about an overwhelming victory because they know that the election will be won with every vote.

Chile's new constitution
Chile’s new constitutionRELATED PRESSAP

For the former Minister of Women and Equality in the government of Sebastián Piñera and former vice president of the right-wing party Independent Democratic Union (UDI), Isabel PlaIn general, the new version of Magna Carta “proposes sensible changes and addresses the new challenges facing the country, such as institutional strength, organized crime and the recognition of indigenous peoples (…) I highlight, among other things, the definition “of Chile as a social and democratic constitutional state; the changes in the political system, which is about governability and stability,” he points out.

The President of the “December Against the Movement” movement, Ricardo Martínezwho defends the current constitution, assures that the new proposal expands the state and therefore limits the freedom of its citizens, and calls on Chileans not to be deceived.

In addition, the “self-proclaimed patriots”, as they call themselves, assure that this Sunday the “against” option will prevail and that the current Constitution will remain in force, thus completing a long and arduous process, partly political The class will focus the elections on “345 mayors and almost 10,000 city councilors to be elected in 2024 and parliamentarians in 2025”.

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For former minister Plá, if the “proponents” win, “the first sign for the country would be that of greater stability, which depends not only on clear rules, but also on the horizon of these rules and their standard.” It would be more than one Triumph for the right, it would be confirmation that the majority of Chileans want moderate changes with democratic standards, that respect freedoms and equality before the law and face uncertainty with greater firmness.

Signals for the Boric government

The ruling party knows that another defeat could further undermine the credibility of the government of Gabriel Boric, who, according to the latest Cadem poll from November, only has 33% approval of his management.

Isabel Plá says that if the “against” option wins, “there will be a night of triumph for the government and the left, also for the part (I think a minority) of the right that finds itself in this position. However, there will be a fundamental defeat in this left’s greatest desire: to replace the 1980 constitution. There is no doubt that they will reopen the debate as soon as Boric’s mandate ends, that will be their new political horizon.

Boric thanks Mexico for the help it provided to thousands of politically persecuted people in 1973
Boric thanks Mexico for the help it provided to thousands of politically persecuted people in 1973Elvis GonzálezEFE

For Boric in particular, another fall along the way, taking into account the previous ones on this issue, would give a strong boost to his political and governmental project, to which he entrusted an eventual amendment to the Constitution.

“Electorally, it would be the second victory of the forces that were there last year to reject the text of the convention, from the Republicans to the Democrats (centre), and that could be the beginning of a coalition that would face everyone in the future. “left,” concludes Piñera’s former portfolio manager.

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