The conservative vision of Chile’s far-right has been introduced in a proposed constitution, which some experts view as a regression for the nation.
The recently proposed revision, potentially replacing the existing Pinochet-era constitution, was created by a council headed by the extreme right Republican party. This could pose a risk to abortion rights, limit the ability to strike collectively, and decrease the number of elected representatives in Chile’s congress.
The newly drafted proposal was formally presented to President Gabriel Boric, who belongs to the left-wing party, at a ceremony in Santiago on Tuesday. He announced that a plebiscite will be held on December 17th, and all Chileans are required to vote on the proposal.
In 2019, there was a significant event in the ongoing political turmoil: months of political turmoil were sparked by persistent inequality and dissatisfaction. In an attempt to calm the protests, politicians came to an agreement to begin replacing the country’s 1980 constitution, which had undergone numerous reforms but was still unpopular.
A preliminary version, hailed as the most progressive constitution in the world, was overwhelmingly rejected in a plebiscite held in September 2022. Now, Chileans will have the opportunity to vote on an alternative with a completely different political stance.
Instead of the previous draft, which showcased Indigenous people dressed in their traditional attire, Boric was accompanied by Beatriz Hevia, the president who speaks German on the current constitutional council. She referred to the upcoming plebiscite as the day when the dreams of “genuine Chileans” would come to fruition.
Similar to the document from the Pinochet era that it aims to supersede, the updated proposal does not acknowledge the presence of Indigenous Chileans, even though they make up approximately 13% of the population.
According to Boric, if the document is approved, his administration will focus on putting it into action. However, if it is rejected, they will prioritize “continuing to work and govern for the betterment of the people.”
The previous version received negative feedback due to its excessive length, potentially making it one of the longest constitutions globally. Additionally, it included a vast array of rights, ranging from universal healthcare and education to safeguarding culinary traditions and animal well-being.
One of the most contentious statements in the latest draft states that “the law safeguards the existence of the unborn”, with a minor alteration in phrasing compared to the current constitution. This change has been cautioned to potentially result in complete illegality of abortion in the South American nation. Presently, abortions are permitted in cases of rape, threat to the mother’s life, and non-viability of the fetus.
Following the unsuccessful initial version, Chile’s political parties created a highly regulated second procedure in which voting would be mandatory at each step. Additionally, congress-appointed experts would prepare a preliminary proposal for elected representatives to modify.
During the heightened media attention on public safety leading up to the vote, the extremely conservative Republican party dominated the May elections and secured over one-third of the seats in the reduced constitutional council.