Chilean voters went to the polls on Sunday and said a decisive “no” to a new, progressive constitution prepared by the country’s left-wing government, reported Reuters.
Chile’s political leadership approved a referendum on a new constitution after widespread protests against social inequality rocked the country in 2019 and 2020.
The 2020 referendum on drafting a new constitution passed with an overwhelming 80 percent of voters in favour. But 62 percent of voters rejected the draft prepared on Sunday, which Reuters said would have been one of the world’s most progressive charters.
In 2021, Gabriel Boric was elected as the country’s new leftist president. The new text he prepared marked a sharp shift from the constitution implemented by the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship in 1980.
The new text included legal abortion, universal public health care, gender parity in government, empowered labour unions, greater autonomy for Indigenous groups, rights for animals and nature; and constitutional rights to housing, education, retirement benefits, internet access, clean air, water, sanitation and care “from birth to death” as reported in the New York Times.
A reported 13 million out of 15 million Chileans and residents who were eligible to vote went to the polls across more than 3,000 voting centres.
Boric said he would work with congress and different sectors of society to draft another text, taking lessons from Sunday’s failure.
Political analyst Cristobal Bellolio told Reuters that Sunday’s failed vote could be explained by two factors – the rejection of the Boric government and “identity politics in regards to indigenous and other issues.”
On the other hand, Jacobin magazine editor Belén Fernández said the new text included “various protections for organised labour and guarantees basic rights like health, education, shelter, food, and water – which, however basic they may be, still spell sacrilege from a neoliberal perspective”.
Karol Cariola, spokesperson for the approval campaign, said that the campaign is still committed to creating conditions to channel popular will onto a new constitution.