In Chile, a highly disputed constitutional referendum on September 4

In Chile, a highly disputed constitutional referendum on September 4

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Will Chile definitely turn the Augusto Pinochet page? 15 million Chileans will decide, Sunday, September 4, during a referendum. They are called upon to decide on a new Constitution which would replace the one inherited from the dictatorship, and which is still in force. But two days before the referendum, all the polls indicate that a majority of voters will reject the new Constitution text.

The new social contract, if approved, would determine living together in the Chile of tomorrow. It is therefore a historic moment that Chilean society is about to experience. “, emphasizes Sebastian Santander. This professor of political science at the University of Liège is formal: the 388 articles drafted by the Constituent Assembly over the course of a year make this project not only the longest but also one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.

An ambitious and progressive project

For the members of the Constituent Assembly, it was ” guarantee fundamental rights to every Chilean, and in particular to the most disadvantaged populations under the current system », explains the expert.

The text guarantees the right to abortion. It establishes gender parity in all governmental and administrative bodies of the country. This proposal also envisages the creation of a Plurinational State. This means that it gives rights to indigenous communities, such as access to territories, cultural and linguistic recognition, and above all the establishment of legal pluralism. This would allow indigenous communities to have their own legal system. Even if, for certain questions, there would of course be a national judicial system “, details Sebastian Santander.

The professor continues: Another important point are environmental rights. This is to guarantee the protection of and access to land resources and to prohibit any commodification of natural resources. And then, this Constitution also enshrines the establishment of a public system for health care, education and pensions. It is truly a very ambitious project. »

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The right campaigned against the new Constitution

From the beginning of the work of the Constituent Assembly, the Chilean right launched a very aggressive campaign in the media and social networks against the project of ” to create a new society by going beyond the Pinochetist Constitution of 1980 “Explains Sebastian Santander again. ” These conservative forces want to maintain the status quo, to preserve the current model of society at all costs. Because they fear that their interests will be challenged “, he details.

Although it is not the only cause, this campaign led by the Chilean right and often imbued with massive misinformation has succeeded in sowing doubt among the population. For months, the “no” to the referendum of this Sunday, September 4, 2022 leads the polls. Almost two years ago, in October 2020, 78% of Chileans had nevertheless voted for the election of a Constituent Assembly.

Above all, this result also meant the definitive rejection of the 1980 Constitution inherited from the Pinochet era “, notes Alfredo Joignant, professor at the Diego Portales University in Santiago, for whom this rejection ” excludes any backtracking “. ” Everyone knows it, including the right. The 1980 Constitution is technically dead », stresses Alfredo Joignant.

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Even if the “no” were to prevail, a reversal is impossible

Only here: if the “no” wins this Sunday in the referendum, it is indeed the Constitution of Pinochet which will remain in force. ” What is opening up in Chile is a kind of no man’s land “, believes Alfredo Joignant, who is certain of the victory of the “no”.

That is to say a period when the constitutional norm in force, that of 1980, operates legally in fact but without any political support and without social legitimacy. This is why we will have to move extremely quickly towards the election of a new Constituent Assembly. So whatever should happen after the September 4 plebiscite is over is through negotiations with the right. And from there, the forces of the left will have to cling to this negotiation, including the President of the Republic “explains the professor.

In this context, it is the still hesitant Chileans who are the focus of all the attention. According to the polls, they would be between 10% and 15% not yet to have determined their choice for the referendum on Sunday.

To convince them, Gabriel Boric, the centre-left president and fervent supporter of the new Constitution, has already promised that improvements would be made to the text if it were adopted. A strategy that does not seem to have moved voting intentions. The polls always give the “no” in mind.

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