Chileans Reject a New Constitution

Chileans Reject a New Constitution

Chileans Reject a New Constitution


  • Chileans overwhelmingly voted against a proposed new constitution on Sunday, rejecting what would have been one of the world’s most progressive charters.

What would be the implications?

  • With this decision of rejecting a new constitution from the citizens of Chile could further deepen the country’s political divisions.
  • This is because the present charter which governs Chile was written under the brutal military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
  • If implemented it could have transformed South America’s most free market-friendly country into a state-driven, rights-rich welfare society.

Brief Background:

  • The need for a new constitution started with street protests in 2019 triggered by a modest rise in subway fares which prompted then President Sebastián Piñera to promise to rewrite the Constitution.
  • The charter which existed earlier which was given by General Augusto Pinochet was more market friendly and pro – business and restricting state intervention in the economy.
  • As a result, Chile has seen fast development since its market reforms but as a matter of concern it is also true that Chile has also grown into one of the most unequal countries in the region.

The New Liberal Constitution:

  • This 170-page long constitution is categorized as a liberal one because of some of the features present in it.
  • They include legalizing abortion, providing universal health care, mandating gender parity in government, empowering labour unions, and tightening regulations on mining.
  • The New Liberal Constitution also promised to define Chile as a “plurinational” state that would recognize its 11 Indigenous groups, who make up some 13% of the population — they could have their own governing structures and legal systems.
  • This was a major point of concern of the opposition camp who felt that this would lead to anarchy.
  • Because if different ethnic groups are given such rights it would decrease the interference of the armed forces which would increase the chance of a anarchial state.

Way Forward:

  • The old Constitution would remain in force until Chile’s political class finds a way ahead.
  • Boric has promised to repeat the Constitution process — elections to the constituent assembly and then preparation of another draft that is put to a referendum — which would take time.



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