The Constitutional Council of Chile, dominated by a conservative majority, has approved a proposal for a new Constitution that will be put to a citizen vote on December 17. This marks the country’s second attempt in four years to replace the current Constitution enacted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The proposed text was approved without political consensus, with 33 votes in favor and 17 against from the ruling party. The approval of the proposal will now be delivered to President Gabriel Boric, who will call for a mandatory referendum.
The approval of the new Constitution proposal has sparked a polarized debate between the ruling party and the opposition. The right-wing, traditional, and far-right factions have driven the process with their majority in the council. This has resulted in a text that lacks broad agreement and has been criticized for being exclusive, dogmatic, and polarizing. On the other hand, the left-wing has criticized the proposal for not achieving a consensus and for maintaining elements of the current Constitution that they believe to be regressive.
Throughout the process, there has been a lack of interest from citizens, with polls consistently showing a majority against the new Constitution. Despite efforts to gather public support, the lack of consensus and the perceived shortcomings of the proposal have contributed to skepticism among the population. However, the latest poll shows a slight increase in favor of the new Constitution, although the majority still remains against it.
One noteworthy aspect of this process has been the role of the Republican Party, which initially opposed changing the Constitution but later expressed support. The party’s leader, Jose Antonio Kast, announced his support for the new Constitution, highlighting the opportunity for change and stability it offers. This has led to the opposition joining forces with the ruling party, including prominent figures from the traditional right.
The proposed text includes articles that the left sees as a setback, particularly regarding the social State and the role of the private sector in social rights provision. The left also raises concerns about a norm protecting the life of the unborn, fearing it could collide with existing abortion laws. This has created a dilemma for the left, as rejecting the proposal would mean endorsing the current Constitution, which they have long criticized as a product of the Pinochet dictatorship.
The Boric Government has maintained a careful distance throughout the process but has recently voiced a desire for a more inclusive text that represents the diversity of Chilean society. The government emphasizes that a Constitution should be a meeting space and should be designed to last for decades.