The people of Chile have voted in favour of rewriting the Pinochet-era constitution. The old text will be replaced by a new citizen-oriented constitution to be written by Chileans. In 2019, anti-government protests started in the South American country. It took a year to come to the point where a referendum was held to determine if the people of Chile want to rewrite the constitution or not.
Around 78% of Chileans, from the 90% counted votes have voted in favour of the change. The streets of Santiago saw celebrations with singing, dancing, and firecrackers.
End of Pinochet-era constitution
The protesters demanded an end of the constitution that was created by General Augusto Pinochet in the 1980s during the dictatorship era. Under his 17-year long military rule, countless reports of human rights violations came out. Those who were on the street protesting in recent months described the dictatorial-era constitution as the main reason behind inequalities in the social and economic status in the country.
The process of writing the new constitution of Chile
Chileans voted on two factors in the referendum. First, they determined if the constitution should be re-written or not. Secondly, if the new constitution should be drafted by the members of the Congress or elected representatives. An overwhelming 79% of people have voted in favour of the new constitution being drawn up by a 100% elected body, rather than a body with 50% Congress members.
By April 2021, a 155-member constitutional convention will be formed consisting of an equal number of males and females. This will be the first time a constitution will be written with gender parity. The convention will have one year of time to draft the new constitution. After that, a referendum will be held to determine if the Chileans are happy with the draft or if they want to go back to the previous one.
Critics warn two years of uncertainty
Those who are against changing the constitution have said that for the next two years, there will be uncertainty, and the process can disrupt public life and threaten the economic stability of the country.
President urged Chileans to work together
In a special broadcast after voting concluded on Sunday, Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile, mentioned in a speech that the old constitution had divided the people of Chile. He said, “Until now, the constitution has divided us. From today, we must all work together so that the new constitution is the great framework of unity, stability and future.”
[VIVO] Nuestra democracia se fortaleció gracias a la participación ciudadana. Hoy nuestro deber será seguir construyendo un país mejor https://t.co/Uh2VaPiPke— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) October 26, 2020
He said the new draft should include “the legacy of past generations, the will of present generations and the hopes of generations to come.”