The new constitutional process in Chile started this Monday with the installation of the committee of experts appointed by Parliament, who will prepare a draft of the new Constitution that will serve as a basis for the councilors who are elected at the polls.
The 24 experts, of which 12 were chosen by the Chamber of Deputies and 12 by the Senate -including veteran figures of Chilean politics- took office in the building of the old Santiago Congress in a sober ceremony, which coexists with the lack of expectations and citizen interest for this second constituent attempt.
The body has three months to write a draft of the fundamental letter and deliver it to the Constitutional Council, made up of 50 councilors who will be elected next May 7 at the polls with a period of five months to make modifications and prepare a final proposal. This text will have to be approved by the citizens in a plebiscite with a mandatory vote on December 17 for its entry into force.
Verónica Undurraga, PhD in Law from the University of Chile -proposed by the ruling Party for Democracy (PPD)- was elected president of the committee, while Sebastián Soto, a lawyer from the Catholic University of Chile and appointed by the opposition party Evópoli , took over as Vice President.
Indifference in the population
“I know that many do not feel summoned because they are skeptical of this process (…) The discomforts of our society are deep and it will take time to build trust”said Dr. Undurraga in her first speech. The opponent Soto, for his part, declared that “the objective is to prepare a draft Constitution that unites us, hopefully without labels, that is a common house, not partisan, a text that will remain and that will unite us for a long time.”
The group of experts -a novelty of this new process- generates a certain reluctance in sectors of society, fearful that Parliament will “protect” the drafting of the new Constitution. Under the slogan “No to the constitutional agreement”, dozens of people gathered to protest against the participation of experts appointed by political parties.
The previous constitution was rejected last September by 62.5% of voters and it had been drafted by a convention with a progressive majority and made up of independent citizens, without party affiliation.