Chileans start voting on a new constitution

The Chileans begin to vote on a new constitution

Chile's 15 million voters will vote on a proposed new constitution in a referendum.

Chile's 15 million voters have started voting Sunday in the context of the referendum on the new Constitution intended, if the voters approve it, to replace that which dated from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Long lines stretched in front of the polling stations before they even opened at 8 a.m. for this ballot which must decide whether Chileans want a major change in society or not. Voting will end at 6 p.m.

Left-wing President Gabriel Boric was among the first to vote, along with his father and brother, in the city from Punta Arenas, in the far south of the country, facing the Strait of Magellan.

In Chile, we must resolve our differences with more democracy, never with less. I am very proud that we have come this far, he commented on Twitter.

Sunday's vote is expected to either finalize, if yes, or suspend, if no, the process for a new constitution undertaken in the wake of the violent popular uprising in 2019 calling for more social justice.

The current Constitution, drafted under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), is still, despite several successive reforms, considered as a brake on any fundamental social reform.

The neoliberal basis of a model that has enabled decades of stability and economic growth, it has also spawned a deeply unequal society.

The proposal stipulates in particular that the State can guarantee Chilean citizens the right to education, public health, retirement and decent housing. It plans to enshrine the right to abortion, a divisive issue in the country where abortion has only been authorized since 2017 in the event of rape or danger to the mother or child, as well as environmental rights or the recognition of indigenous peoples.

The vote should finalize (if yes wins) or suspend the process of a new constitution undertaken following the violent uprising of 2019 demanding more social justice.

Despite the show of force of the supporters of the yes, who gathered more than 250,000 people Thursday evening in Santiago at the end of the official campaign – compared to 400 for the supporters of the no – the polls predict, without exception, the victory of the I reject the proposal new constitution.

Many young people are going to vote, especially in the capital, and these young people are for change. But this does not mean that the vote of approval will prevail because it is given as a loser in the south and north of the country, tells Agence France-Presse Marta Lagos, sociologist and founder of the Mori polling institute.

These two regions have serious problems of violence and insecurity. In the south, due to conflicts over land claimed by radical indigenous Mapuche groups and, in the north, due to the influx of migrants, problems of poverty and human trafficking.

According to Ms. Lagos, the supporters of the no are a very heterogeneous group with a strong populist streak fueled by the fear of being dispossessed. On the contrary, the yes side has been able to understand how the new social rights will be distributed, she says.

There is of course always a possibility that all the polls are wrong and that the vote in the capital could compensate for the one in the north and the south of the country, but I think that this probability does not exceed 5% of chance, assures-t -elle.

The new constitution carries some of the values ​​of millennials (who came of age in 2000 or later), but we should see a conservative vote, predicts the sociologist.< /p>

A rejection of this proposed constitution, developed for a year by a constituent assembly elected in May 2021 and composed of 154 members, would not mean the freezing of all reforms. Roadmaps have already been developed.

Chileans must vote on the adoption of a new constitution to replace the current Constitution, drafted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

There is a consensus that the 1980 Constitution is no longer valid and that we should move on to one establishing new social, political and economic rights, student Cecilia Osorio told AFP. at the University of Chile.

Emanuel Gonzalez, a 22-year-old journalist who says he voted to write a new constitution in the referendum of Chile. #x27;October 2020, this time intends to reject the resulting proposal.

It's not that I don't like it at all. I read it and think there are things that can be saved if a new constituent process is recreated, he said.

If the rejection wins, President Gabriel Boric has announced that he will ask parliament to launch a new constitutional process from scratch, with the election of a new constituent assembly to draft a new text.

According to him, the 2020 referendum, approved by 79%, definitively buried the Constitution of the Pinochet era.

If the yes wins, the new Constitution will come into force in 10 days.

President Boric's supporters want to believe in a reversal of the situation. People will vote en masse and the polls will be wrong again, is convinced Senator Juan Carlos Latorre, president of the Democratic Revolution party, member of the government coalition.

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