If the course does not change, Chile is headed for a second failure in its constituency process. The proposal for a new Constitution approved this Monday by the Constitutional Council, a body controlled by the far-right Republican Party (with 22 of the 50 seats) and the traditional right (11 seats ) who drafted the text since June, not attracting the support of citizens to implement. If the current trend continues, the country will become the first in the world to assemble two failed constituent processes. Only one year and three months had passed between them.
Chile’s old political guard has re-emerged in the second process of drafting a new Constitution
The text, which was approved by 33 votes from the right in favor and 11 from the left and center-left against, has the conservative stamp of the parties that set the tone for this second attempt. “The left does not like this proposal and caricatures it because they fear that the success of this Constitution will end their story and close the door to the ideologies that have caused so much damage,” said Republican adviser Ángeles López during the debate. From the Communist Party, his counterpart Karen Araya responded that the new rule was “more right-wing” than the one implemented. “It’s too conservative and will further deepen inequality,” he added.
Among the articles criticized by the government parties is the clause that protects “unborn life”, which can put the abortion law at risk in three basic cases (fetal inviability, risk to the mother and rape) , which was approved in 2017 after decades of struggle by the feminist movement. Also causing controversy, among others, are the clauses on the immediate expulsion of migrants in an irregular situation or those that maintain the current subsidiary State and remove the social rule of law, one of the greatest ambitions of progressivism for this process.
“This is a proposal that returns some of the problematic issues discussed in the Chilean constitutional doctrine in recent decades,” constitutional lawyer Tania Busch told elDiario.es. In his opinion, “it does not solve” the problems of the current Magna Carta of 1980 that led to the current crisis, but rather “to a certain extent, it emphasizes them.” Rodrigo Espinoza, director of the School of Public Administration at Diego Portales University, believes that the articles include “identity aspects for rights.” Last week, far-right adviser Luis Silva acknowledged that the constitutional text “overly accommodates” the spectrum “from the center-right to the right.”
A “very stateful” rejection
For months now, polls have predicted a resounding rejection of the text by citizens. The leader of the extreme right, José Antonio Kast, who is now established as one of the defenders of the new basic text, said a few days ago that in a month and a half until December 17, when the proposed Constitution will be voted in a plebiscite , manage to “reverse” the predictions of the polls and add the votes so that the option “in favor (of the new Constitution)” will win. “We have a great opportunity, not to be defeated, to change the future of Chile,” he said, despite the fact that he has always opposed the replacement of the current Magna Carta, successor to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
“It is very difficult in 60 days to change that opinion because it is very strong,” said Marco Moreno, dean of the Faculty of Government at Central University. According to him, comparative evidence around the world shows the complexity of “reversing the difference of 20, 25 or 30 points found in opinion studies” in a short period of time. In addition, he added, this second attempt “did not arouse much interest because the citizens were tired and experienced a kind of fatigue with the issue.”
Tania Busch sees that it is “impossible” to change the bad predictions, but remembers that in the last votes “the Chilean electorate appears to be very different in its choice” until reaching the results “not seen” in the polls.
“Repeat errors from previous process”
The process was marked by a lack of consensus. “There is no spirit of dialogue,” Espinoza said. The right accused the government parties of “not wanting to engage in conversations” – explained the academic – while, on the other hand, the left and center-left criticized that the conservatives were “running on a steamroller” in different stages of drafting.
The Republican Party and the right-wing coalition Chile Vamos presented almost 400 amendments (out of a total of 1,099) to significantly modify the initial draft prepared by an expert commission as a basis for the work of the Council. This is a preliminary draft that has generated a consensus. “Although it did not stir up any sector, it left controversial issues for democratic discussion and allowed the constitutional problem to be closed,” Busch said.
For analysts, the same mistakes of the previous process are “repeated.” Then, unlike now, the constitutional itinerary was guided by a body with a progressive majority, composed of left-wing militants and independents, which developed a proposal for a basic charter considered “refoundational ” because it suggests extensive institutional changes. framework.
Waiting for the Government parties
Although out of focus the parties in the government coalition have expressed the possibility of rejecting the text, there is still no official statement. It is obvious that the Executive of Gabriel Boric did not agree with the proposal that came from the Council, but it remains to be seen if there is unity within the coalition in the final decision. “It’s not at all surprising to see differences in the voting patterns of the Communist Party and the left of center,” Espinoza warned.
Experts agree that the weight of a possible second failure will not fall so much on the president and his Government, but on the Republican Party, which is leading the process. “Citizens know that in the Council elections they gave the Republican Party the majority to lead this process,” said Marco Moreno. The second missed opportunity will affect “Kast’s leadership more than Boric’s,” he added. If that happens, the law establishes that the current Magna Carta will remain in force, however, it points out, “the problem of the legitimacy of the origin” will continue.
Boric warned months ago that during his term there would not be a third chance to start a new process and experts see little possibility of reopening a new one constitutional itinerary in the short or medium term. For the lawyer Busch, in this scenario, the only way forward is the reforms of the basic charter that “identifies the issues of social harmony.” And he concluded: “The constitutional problem will not be dissolved by failing twice, it will worsen and it will appear again without knowing when.”