Gabriel Boric will promote a new convention if he wins the rejection of the constitutional proposal in Chile

Gabriel Boric, the president of Chile, in an image from June 9.
Gabriel Boric, the president of Chile, in an image from June 9.Jae C. Hong (AP)

President Gabriel Boric announced this Friday that his government will promote a new constitutional process if the citizens reject the proposal for the new Constitution in the plebiscite on September 4. The president, in an interview in Chilevision, assured that, through Parliament, they would seek to convene a vote again so that Chileans elect the members of a second Constituent Convention, those in charge of drafting the Fundamental Charter. This proposal, which is not part of the current political agreement, “is the path that Chile decided to take when it voted on October 25 [de 2020] in a plebiscite for a new Constitution that is drafted by a 100% elected body for that purpose,” explained the president.

In the plebiscite, with a mandatory vote and a binding result, more than 15 million Chileans will decide whether to approve or reject the text written for a year by 154 conventional elected by the citizens. If he wins I approve, the new Fundamental Charter would enter into force, the first in the history of Chile discussed in democracy; if he wins Rejection, The Constitution drafted in 1980 by the Pinochet dictatorship will be maintained, which, although it has been modified on numerous occasions, lacks legitimacy. The polls reveal a triumph of the Rejection with about 54% of the votes. One of the debates is what path Chile will follow the day after the referendum.

The right and part of the center-left lead a campaign under the slogan “Reject to reform” -the current Magna Carta-; the progressive majority postulates “approve to reform” the new text from Congress. The Executive has repeatedly defended the legitimacy of the two options, while at the same time endorsing the constitutional proposal presented to the president and the citizens on July 4.

“There is a transversal agreement today that the Constitution we have does not represent a social agreement in Chile. Do you have to make modifications? Yes. What I invite everyone to do is to ask themselves and answer in good faith in what scenario it is more feasible to carry them out,” President Boric said this Friday. “To win the alternative Rejection, We are going to have to prolong this process for another year and a half, where everything is going to have to be discussed again, from scratch,” he added. The Minister of the Interior, Izkia Siches, assured that, with these statements made in a morning, Boric “has set a roadmap today” and that the potential new constituent process “is part of the interpretation that we make as a government” .

Political scientist Octavio Avendaño welcomes the president’s approach, but believes that it should apply to both scenarios: whether he wins approval or rejection. “Why? because the constitutional process that has just ended has a series of questions from the population, whether in State, political or judicial matters. There are a series of sloppiness, ”he maintains. The academic at the University of Chile does not share that, if a new process is carried out, the convention will be formed in the same way as the first. “I don’t know if it’s viable given the current conditions. There was already a first opportunity for that. It could be a mixed formula and even leave the possibility that experts could come in to play a more leading role”, he points out.

The proposed new Constitution declares Chile as “a social and democratic State of law”, “plurinational, intercultural, regional and ecological”, with an “inclusive and parity” democracy. Among the most controversial articles is the end of the Senate -which would be replaced by a Chamber of the Regions-, the end of the Judicial System, and the consecration of “legal pluralism”. Boric assured that the document requires modifications “without a doubt”. “I would like us to have a broad agreement regarding things that need to be modified. For example, the issue of justice systems, versus Judicial Power”, he pointed out.

The text that will be plebiscite in less than two months is the result of a process that began with the social outbreak of October 2019, during the government of Sebastián Piñera. To provide an institutional solution to the crisis, most of the political parties agreed to call a referendum to decide whether to change the Constitution. 78.3% voted in favor and 21.7% against. A similar percentage supported that the new document be drafted by elected citizens, without the participation of congressmen.

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