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Chile: a heterogeneous assembly sets to work to draft a new Constitution

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Chile begins the process of drafting its new Constitution on Sunday, with the official installation of the assembly responsible for drafting it: 155 citizens elected at the end of an unprecedented democratic process, after months of lively social protest.

Members of the Constituent Assembly, whose work begins on Sunday July 4, will have a minimum of 9 months and a maximum of 12 months to try to draft the new Basic Law. In the history of Chile, “it is the first time that the citizens have been able to elect a body to write” a Constitution, underlines to AFP Claudio Fuentes, professor at the University Diego Portales.

At the end of the vote on May 15 and 16, the 155 new constituents appeared to be very heterogeneous. Independent candidates represent 40% of elected officials, to the detriment of lists put together by traditional parties. This assembly is fully equal and 17 of its seats have been reserved for representatives of indigenous peoples.

The newly elected officials will take the oath on Sunday 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.

For many analysts, this constituent “looks like real Chile”, with environmental activists, community leaders, lawyers, professors, journalists, economists, but also housewives. The doctor Gaspar Dominguez, installed in the provinces, is part of it and he is delighted on Twitter of the beginnings of work of this assembly by commenting “it is real”.

Representatives of traditional political parties are in the minority, and no political force has the third necessary to veto, with deliberations having to be approved by two-thirds.

“There is a very deep rupture between society and institutions, a questioning of the role of political parties”, analyzes Marcela Rios, of the United Nations Development Program in Chile.

Referendum in 2022

Among the members of the constituent assembly, about twenty were among the Chileans who spontaneously took to the streets to express their fed-up with the social revolt that erupted on October 18, 2019. First targeting an increase in the price of the ticket of metro 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, 2019 with 1.2 million Chileans in the streets of Santiago, the political parties had reached a historic agreement for a referendum on a change of the Constitution, finally voted 79%. .

Many demonstrators then pointed to the text, voted in 1980, as the pivot of the ultraliberal economic system set up under Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and a brake on any fundamental social reform.

>> To read : In Chile, a mobilization against the economic legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship

“It is a light of hope and a synonym for the struggle in the street,” Ingrid Villena, a 31-year-old lawyer specializing in violence against women, who says she was elected by people, told AFP of the “people” like her. “From the people, that is to say to know what it means to get up every day at 6 am, to work more than 12 hours a day, to have two jobs to survive by going into debt and not being able to pay things as basic as food or health, ”she sums up.

For Jaime Bassa, 44, elected in the center-west of the country, who has been promoting for years as a lawyer specializing in a change of the Constitution, the latter must guarantee “the protection of social rights, because behind these social rights, he There is also the desire to distribute the country’s wealth more equitably “.

At the other end of the ideological spectrum, the candidate of the conservative right, Marcela Cubillos, ex-minister in the government of President Sebastian Piñera and who campaigned for ‘no’ in the referendum, wants to defend the record of three decades of democracy , “the best in the history of Chile”.

“The right silently accepted the rhetoric of the left which wants us to believe that they have been the worst 30 years,” said the second best-elected candidate in the country, even though her party was one of the big losers of the ballot. At the end of their work, the new Constitution will be submitted to a new referendum in 2022. In the event of rejection, the current text will remain in force.

With AFP

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