Chile emphatically rejects new constitution in referendum | Politics News


Chileans say no to proposed constitution that would have replaced the charter dating back to the Pinochet era.

Chile has voted to reject a proposed new constitution that aimed to create a more inclusive society than the charter which was adopted during the rule of military dictator Augusto Pinochet, in a result that exceeded the expectations of the conservative opposition.

The new constitution, which would have had a greater focus on social rights, the environment, and gender equality, emerged from an agreement between legislators and protesters to end violent rallies against inequality in 2019.

The ‘yes’ campaign conceded defeat, according to Reuters news agency. Official results showed that with more than 88 percent of votes from the Sunday plebiscite counted, 62 percent had voted to reject the text, with just 38 percent in favour.

More than 15 million Chileans and residents were eligible to vote and there were reports of long queues at some of the more than 3,000 voting centres. Voting is mandatory.

Polls in April predicted that more voters in the country of 19 million planned on rejecting the new constitution.

The proposed charter was the first in the world to be written by a convention split equally between male and female delegates, but critics said it was too long, lacked clarity and went too far in some of its measures, which included characterising Chile as a ‘plurinational’ state, establishing autonomous Indigenous territories, and prioritising the environment.

“The constitution that was written now leans too far to one side and does not have the vision of all Chileans,” 41-year-old  Roberto Briones told the Associated Press news agency after voting in the capital Santiago. “We all want a new constitution, but it needs to have a better structure.”

People queue up in front of a yellow wall to vote in the referendum on a new constitution for Chile
Long queues were reported at many of the 3,000 voting centres around Chile [Matias Basualdo/AP Photo]

The result deals a major blow to President Gabriel Boric, who took office in March and, at 36, is Chile’s youngest-ever president. He had tied his fortunes so closely to the new document that analysts said it was likely that some voters saw the plebiscite as a referendum on his government at a time when his approval ratings have been plunging.

Boric had previously said a new constitutional process must be initiated to comply with a 2020 referendum where 80 percent of Chileans voted to draft a new constitution to replace the Pinochet-era text.

Other political factions say the current text can be amended more simply by using the quorum adjustments that have been recently approved.

Most Chileans and their politicians have agreed the constitution that dates from the dictatorship must change.

Boric has called on the heads of all political parties for a meeting on Monday to chart a path forward.

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