In a plebiscite, the people of Chile decided whether the constitution of 1980, when dictator Augusto Pinochet ruled the country, would cease to apply in this South American country. Public opinion polls have long indicated that the constitution will not receive sufficient support in the referendum.
The surprise is that the naysayers won by such a clear margin. The proposal for a new constitution was rejected in all Chilean provinces, including the progressive capital of Santiago de Chile.
The result of the plebiscite is also a defeat for the left-wing president Gabriel Boric, who was one of its loudest supporters and clearly won the elections in the capital last year.
Boric already admitted the defeat of the proposal on Sunday. “Today the Chilean people spoke and they did so loud and clear. He sent us two messages. The first is that they love and appreciate their democracy. The second is that the Chilean people were not satisfied with the proposed constitution and therefore decided to reject it clearly in the elections,” he said.
At the same time, he announced that the referendum would be followed by changes in the government and that the process of formulating the next version of the new constitution must begin.
Objections to the proposal
Critics of the new constitution argued that the document, which expanded social rights and gave the government more responsibility for social assistance programs, was too progressive and went too far on the rights of indigenous peoples, who would automatically be guaranteed seats in parliament.
There were fears that guaranteeing the right to autonomy for indigenous ethnic groups, which make up about 13 percent of Chile’s roughly 19 million people, could undermine the country’s territorial integrity.
In addition, the constitution envisaged the abolition of the upper house of parliament and emphasized nature protection, which raised the concerns of private water suppliers, and gender equality.
Disinformation about Chile’s new constitution is spreading faster than news, expert says
Internet and PC
The right called the proposal too left-wing and felt that many articles would be difficult to translate into laws.
The constitution began to be prepared after the mass riots of 2019. At that time, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets after the increase in subway fares, demonstrating also for the correction of long-term social inequality, the reform of the pension system, and for a greater role of the state in healthcare and education.
In a referendum in October 2020, 78 percent of Chileans voted for the creation of a new constitution. Last June, they selected the members of the Constituent Assembly, who then spent a year working on the text.