A supporter of the “I Approve” option holds a sign after hearing the results of the referendum on a new Chilean constitution in Valparaiso, Chile, October 25, 2020. The sign reads: “Against the wind and COVID, Chile decided to end the legacy of the dictator.” REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido


Chile voted 4-1 in favor of rewriting its constitution, rejecting principles imposed under the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Exit polls showed that more than 78% of people voted to approve the rewrite. Members of a 155-seat constitutional convention will be voted in by April 2021 and will have a year to agree to a draft, with all proposals requiring approval by a two-thirds majority. The draft will need to be approved in a public vote in 2022.

The United Nations System in Chile referred to the high level of participation in Sunday’s vote as proof of Chile’s strong commitment to democracy. The U.N. also called the vote a chance to reaffirm commitments to human rights and revitalize progress toward Sustainable Development Goals, an agenda the U.N. hopes to achieve by 2030.

President Sebastián Piñera said that the constitution, which has divided Chileans, can now be built into a symbol of unity and stability through collaboration. Though he originally opposed having a new constitution, he conceded earlier on Sunday that it would likely be supported by voters. 

Proponents of Pinochet’s 1980 document say the constitution was the cornerstone of Chile’s growth as one of the richest countries in Latin America since its return to democracy in 1990. Chile’s GDP grew 800% between 1990 and 2018, according to World Bank data. However, a third of the total wealth was owned by the richest 1%. As of 2015, 1 in 5 Chileans expressed support for Pinochet’s military coup.

Opponents of Pinochet’s constitution say the document lacks legitimacy and harkens back to a dark and violent period in Chilean history. During his dictatorship, nearly 40,000 people suffered human rights abuses, 3,000 died or disappeared and 200,000 escaped by going into exile.

Ariane Ortiz-Bollin and Nina Delhomme, analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, said a desire to keep elements of Chile’s current economic model in place, such as free markets and central bank independence, means there’s a low risk for major institutional changes.


Paris and Plebiscite 2020: “There are no losers or winners, it is Chile, the Homeland, that wins” – BioBioChile – 10/25/2020
During the voting day this Sunday, and within the framework of the 2020 Plebiscite, the Minister of Health, Enrique Paris, attended the Carmela Carvajal High School to vote. In the instance, he pointed out that he sees “that there is tranquility in the premises and I have seen it on television, not at this minute, but great joy, a great call, the desire to participate in this democratic party that will obviously allow us make a change that many want in the Constitution of our Republic,” he declared at 24 Hours.

Minister Rubilar: “What we are seeing is a Chile that wants to make its voice heard” – La Nación – 10/25/2020
“The truth is that from Arica to Magallanes we have seen people eager to participate. What we are seeing is a Chile that wants to make its voice heard, and the truth is that this is a triumph for all of us that tomorrow, regardless of the result, “said the Secretary of State in conversation with 24 Horas.

Celebrations in Chile as voters back rewriting constitution – Al Jazeera – 10/26/2020
In Santiago’s Plaza Italia, the focus of the massive and often violent protests last year which sparked the demand for a new charter, fireworks rose above huge crowds of jubilant people singing in unison late on Sunday as the word “rebirth” was beamed onto a tower above.

In need of a new edifice – Chile’s momentous referendum on its constitution – The Economist – 10/22/2020
A more enduring solution is supposed to come from a referendum, to be held on October 25th, on whether Chile should scrap its constitution and write a new one. “This provides a chance to channel in a civilised way something that got really scary,” says Javier Couso, a constitutional scholar at Diego Portales and Utrecht universities who advises the centrist Christian Democratic Party.


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