Chile launches, on Sunday July 4, the process of drafting its new Constitution, with the official installation of the Constituent Assembly, responsible for drafting it and composed of 155 citizens elected at the end of an unprecedented democratic process, after months of strong social protest.
This assembly, which will work on the new fundamental law for a minimum of nine months, a maximum of twelve, is fully equal and 17 of its seats have been reserved for representatives of indigenous peoples.
In the history of Chile, “This is the first time that citizens have been able to elect a body to write” a Constitution, emphasizes to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Claudio Fuentes, professor at Diego-Portales University. At the end of the vote on May 15 and 16, the new constituents appeared to be very heterogeneous. Independent candidates represent 40% of elected officials, to the detriment of lists put together by traditional parties.
For many analysts, this Constituent Assembly “Looks like real Chile”, with environmental activists, community leaders, lawyers, teachers, journalists, economists, but also housewives. Representatives of traditional political parties are in the minority, and no political force has the necessary one-third to veto, with deliberations requiring two-thirds approval.
A new referendum in 2022
Among the members of the Constituent Assembly, about twenty individuals were among the Chileans who took to the streets to express their fed-up with the social sling that erupted on October 18, 2019. First targeting an increase in the price of the metro ticket in Santiago, the protest quickly turned into an unprecedented movement against social inequalities.
Faced with the scale of the demonstrations, which culminated on October 25 with 1.2 million demonstrators, the political parties had reached an agreement for a referendum on a change of the Constitution (acclaimed at 79%). Many demonstrators accused the text, voted in 1980, of being the pivot of the ultraliberal economic system set up under Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and a brake on any fundamental social reform.
On Sunday, the newly elected officials will take the oath in the gardens of the old Parliament in Santiago, due to health constraints linked to the pandemic. They will proceed to the election of their president and vice-president. Subsequently, the sessions will take place in the former Parliament or in another public building in the center of the capital.
At the end of their work, the new Constitution will be submitted to a referendum in 2022. In the event of rejection, the current text will remain in force.