( Spanish) — Chile rejected the draft of the new Constitution drawn up by the Constitutional Convention and supported by the government of President Boric: 62% of voters voted against it in the “exit” plebiscite for the process started in 2019, when in the middle of a ” social explosion”, the political parties signed a peace agreement which included reform as one of its pillars.
Only 38% voted in favor of the new text, according to the Chilean Electoral Service —the “rejection” won also in all regions—, and consequently the current Constitution written and approved during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile with an iron fist from 1973 to 1990, will remain in force.
The result raised many questions about the future of Chile, which has been left without the tool with which the protests calling for reform and the violence of 2019 had been put to an end, and President Gabriel Boric, who took office in March and has been a defender of the constitutional process.
“Today the people of Chile have spoken and they have done so loudly and clearly. They have given us two messages: the first is that they love and value their democracy, that they trust it to overcome differences and move forward,” Boric said. this Sunday in a televised speech. “The second message from the Chilean people is that they were not satisfied with the proposed Constitution that the Convention presented to Chile and therefore they have decided to clearly reject it at the polls.”
What’s next for Boric and for the Chileans?
A new Constitutional Convention?
According to what is established in the chapter XV of the current Constitution, which was reformed from the Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution of November 15, 2019, “if the question raised to the citizens in the ratifying plebiscite is rejected, this Constitution will continue in force”.
This is what is written. However, President Boric said in July that if the new text was rejected, he would bet on another constitutional process.
“If the ‘Rejection’ alternative (the new Constitution) wins, what will happen is that we will have to prolong this process for another year and a half (…) There must be a new constituent process,” he pointed in an interview to the local channel Chilevisión. “It’s going to have to be discussed all over again, from scratch,” she said.
What was proposed by Boric would seem to have the support of the public, according to a survey of public opinion and issues of social relevance by the pollster Activa. Monthly measurement results Citizen Pulse of July say that if the proposal for a new Constitution is rejected, 62.8% would prefer to start a new constitutional process, while 31.8% are inclined to maintain the current one.
Boric himself said this Sunday that the result of the plebiscite “demands our institutions and political actors to work harder, with more dialogue, with more respect and affection until we arrive at a proposal that interprets us all, that of trust , that unites us as a country”.
For his part, the senator and president of the Democratic Revolution (RD), part of the government coalition I Approve Dignity, Juan Ignacio Latorre, read a series of commitments signed by the ruling parties in which they agreed that “the constitutional process has not ended and the call for the October 2020 plebiscite must continue firmly and decisively, within the framework of the conventional process that the people have mandated From Chile”.
“We commit our decision and conviction to continue down this path under the leadership of President Gabriel Boric, who must lead this institutional mandate so that Chile has a new Constitution born in democracy, whose pillar must be a social and democratic state of rights,” added.
What’s next for Boric
Boric was born in 1986, studied Law and was a deputy for the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica since 2014, according to his own bibliographic review, before winning the presidential elections in the second round in 2022 and for the Approve Dignity coalition.
He was president of the Federation of Students of the University of Chile (FECH), succeeding Camila Vallejos, and led the 2011 student protests calling for greater access to education.
In that role, he was part of the “Agreement for Social Peace and the New Constitution”, in the context of the “social outbreak” of 2019, and his political figure has been strongly linked to the movement to reform the Pinochet Constitution.
Boric’s proposal, according to his own words, is born from the social struggle. In addition, he has said that his programmatic axis is made up of decentralization, feminism, the climate crisis and what he calls a decent work system, many of the issues that were incorporated into the draft of the new Constitution, finally rejected.
“The government was (…) pointing out that a new constitution for Chile is a fundamental condition even for the development of its own program,” José Viacava Gatica, an academic at the Faculty of Government of the University of Chile, told Café .
“Yesterday’s defeat leaves the government with a complex situation, where it will quickly have to stop complaining and move on to the proactive part, leading agreements, establishing a new edge of action and, above all, putting in place a plan of political certainty towards the future”.
“Perhaps one of the great lessons that we must draw is that we cannot maintain a permanent constitutional convention process. There are some here who argue that this has to be quickly resolved in the coming months, one more year would seem an extraordinarily long time causing uncertainty in life and in the markets,” he concluded.
With information from Rocío Muñoz-Ledo, Taylor Barnes, Jorge Engels, Jack Guy and Christopher Ulloa.