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Chile submerged in its constitutional labyrinth

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Chile is immersed in negotiations to launch a new Constitutional process, but almost a month after the resounding defeat at the polls of the proposed new Magna Carta, it has not been able to find a consensus formula among an increasingly polarized political elite.

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Knowing the electoral result of the plebiscite of September 4, which by 62% rejected the proposal for a new Constitution that sought to replace the one inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), the political parties compromised a quick agreement to establish a new electoral itinerary.

But after several rounds of negotiations and nearly a month after the referendum, there is still no agreement on the so-called “borders” (limits) or new general principles that would govern the new process: what will be the body that drafts the new Magna Carta, who will integrate it and in what terms will it carry out its work, among other aspects.

“It is a rather premature moment to say that we have closed a new constitutional process in Chile. We are in what are the preliminary stages”Rodrigo Espinoza, a political scientist at the Diego Portales University, told AFP.

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Political extremes, both from the left and the right, have sharpened the arguments for and against the process, making it more difficult to reach consensus.

“The complexity of this process is that on both sides, both the extreme left and the extreme right, generate costs for this agreement to be possible,” Marcello Mella, a political scientist at the University of Santiago, tells AFP.

“And isolating the extremes takes time”, adds this analyst.

“Borders” or limits

The right-wing opposition – in a minority and without decision-making power in the Constitutional Convention that drafted the failed new Magna Carta – appropriated the resounding victory of the “Rejection” and established a series of limits and conditions to relaunch a new constitutional process, among them that it is not a text “refoundational” as he considers the previous one to have been.

“Not even the most optimistic of the world of ‘Rejection’ thought that the difference (electoral) of the exit plebiscite was going to be so great, and that strengthened the position of the hardest sectors”, said Rodrigo Espinoza, to explain the delay in reaching agreements.

The opposition coalition proposes that there be issues that are respected in the future constituent process, such as the “unity of the Chilean nation; the existence of three autonomous and independent powers of the State; the existence of a bicameral Congress made up of a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate and the protection of the right to life”.

The proposal contradicts aspects enshrined in the failed constitutional proposal, which established the right to abortion and ended after 200 years with the Senate of the Republic (and replaced it with a chamber of the regions). It also established a multinational State, with the recognition of 11 original nations.

“Without organizing principles, it is very difficult for citizens to perceive that this process is different from the one that failed completely on September 4,” explained the senator and president of the ultra-conservative Independent Democratic Union party UDI, Javier Macaya.

Content of the agreement

President Gabriel Boric also called for a constituent process “with lighter edges” than the previous one, which started from a blank page, although with different limits to those proposed by the right.

“I do not intend to outline how the congressmen have to reach the content of this agreement” but “there are obvious things. One: the majority of the Chilean people voted in the plebiscite of (October) 2020 for a new Constitution written by a body 100% elected for that purpose”affirmed the president.

The political coalitions still do not set the common minimums, although there are signs of agreement for it to be drawn up by a joint body, with regular votes and accompanied by a commission of experts, which did not operate in the previous process.

This Friday, five representatives of the ruling party and the opposition met to continue the talks.

Could the process come to nothing?

“It is possible that this could come to nothing, but there is a fear that it could revive ‘Octobrism’”, advere Espiniza, in reference to the massive social demonstrations that broke out on October 18, 2019 and that began the first and failed constitutional process.

With information from AFP

Source: Gestion

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