Countdown to the popular consultation on the Constitution in Chile

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Chile has begun to warm up the engines for the most important historical event since its democratic recovery three decades ago: the popular consultation of October 25 that will demolish what remains of the institutional matrix forged during the last military dictatorship (1973-90) to undertake the drafting of a new constitution. Last Friday the political parties and social organizations began to defend on television the options of “Approve” and “Reject”. “Thank you for thinking of a country where people have names and it is priceless“the former say to those who hope to twist the course of history.” If we all go to vote, we win, “the latter urged. The plebiscite was the result of the social outbreak which began on October 18, 2019. It was to be held in April. The pandemic, which has killed about 12,800 people and infected more than 465,000 in this country, put it in parentheses. Attempts to postpone it again for health reasons have failed.

This time, social networks and internet pages will replace the mobilizations that have always characterized electoral contests. What happens in the virtual world will not essentially alter the voting intention of a large part of society that, shouting a party, had been demanding in the streets to end the Constitution drawn up in 1980 in the image and likeness of the dictator Augusto Pinochet. The latest survey by the MORI consultancy, whose projections are usually taken as holy words, has realized that the 66% of those interviewed it will favor the alternative “I approve”. 73% think in turn that native peopless should have special recognition in the new Constitution. Only 15% of Chileans will reject the death of the current Magna Carta at the polls.

Broad coalition

About 127 leftist social organizations and political parties have come together to jointly promote change. But, at the same time, moderate and even conservative political forces resolved to take the same direction. The president of the Christian Democratic Party (DC), Fuad Chahín, considered that a new fundamental text “would close the political transition“. Mario Desbordes, one of the leaders of Renovación Nacional (RN), the president’s right-wing party Sebastian Pieñera, recognized that half of its adherents are in favor of a new Constitution. He himself will vote “I approve.”

In this way, only the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union (UDI) alone he will defend the “Rejection” tooth and nail. “What Chile requires is resolved through political agreements,” said its leader, Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe. The consultation, he emphasizes, lacks “legitimacy” as it was motivated “for insurrectionary violence“.

The discussions to come

On October 25, Chileans will have to answer in turn how a new fundamental text is drafted in the event of the “Approval” imposed: a mixed Commission of parliamentarians and elected citizens, or a constitutional convention made up only of ordinary men and women. “The possibility that they are 100% elected and guaranteed parity is unprecedented,” said Beatriz Sánchez, former presidential candidate of the leftist Frente Amplio. Another controversy looms on the horizon. The wide range that calls for the approval of the future Magna Carta wants start from scratch, erasing all traces of the Pinochet past. The only thing that must be preserved, they point out, are the international treaties signed by Chile. The UDI, in particular, has already anticipated that it will not accept it in any way.

Days of intense debate are ahead. The intellectuals have massively turned in favor of turning the page. Even Slavoj & Zcaron; i & zcaron; ek from Slovenia joined his Chilean colleagues in voting for approval. Santiago Guzman, the award-winning director of ‘The Battle of Chile’, the main film record of the days he ruled Salvador Allende (1970-73), decided to return to Santiago from Paris to document the days of shaking. “What is going to happen is extraordinary“.

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