Chile’s center-right ruling coalition suffered a shock loss Sunday night after failing to secure a critical third of the seats in the body that will draft the country’s new constitution.
With 90% of the votes counted, candidates backed by President Sebastian Pinera’s center-right coalition, Chile Vamos, only won a fifth while the independents garnered the most votes. The new proposals will require two-thirds approval, and without one-third of the delegates, the government will find it difficult to block sweeping changes to the constitution unless it can forge new alliances.
The result and the defeats of Chilean Vamos candidates in the mayoral, government and municipal elections held at the same time do not bode well for the ruling coalition ahead of the general and presidential elections in November.
The vote to choose 155 citizens to rewrite the constitution was backed by fierce protests that erupted against inequality and elitism in October 2019. The current constitution drafted during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship of 1973-1990 is widely seen as favoring big business over the rights of ordinary citizens. citizens.
Until recently, Chile Vamos was convinced that her candidates would win at least a third of the votes.
Pinera said his government and other traditional political parties should heed the “loud and clear” message that they have not adequately addressed the needs of citizens.
It was “a great opportunity” for Chileans to build a more “just, inclusive, prosperous and sustainable” country, he added.
The local CNN channel in Chile predicted the independents would gain 45 seats, Chile Vamos would gain 39, the center-left 25, the far left 28, and a small coalition would take a seat. Seventeen seats have been reserved for members of indigenous communities in Chile who are not mentioned in this charter.
Pinera, however, warned of extreme changes that some believe could threaten Chile’s status as one of the richest and most stable democracies in Latin America.
Some of the more controversial ideas put forward for the new constitution include potential changes to private land and water rights as well as labor laws that could threaten the interests of traditional investors.
Gabriel Boric, a leading member of the far-left coalition of the broad Chilean front, said the result paved the way for major changes in Chile, the world’s largest copper producer.
“We are looking for a new treaty for our indigenous people, to recover our natural resources, to build a state that guarantees universal social rights,” he said. “We are going to start from scratch and build a new Chile.”
More than 1,200 people showed up to draft the new charter, including actors, writers, civil society activists, politicians, TV hosts and models.
Francisca Linconao, a “Machi” spiritual leader of the indigenous Mapuche people who was jailed for suspected terrorist links before being subsequently acquitted of charges and released, was among those who won a siege.
Delegates will spend a maximum of 12 months debating and drafting the new text, and Chileans will then vote on the final product. If this fails, Chile will revert to the current text.
The new constitutional body is the first in the world to provide for roughly equal numbers of male and female delegates.
Marcela Cubillos, a senior leader of the Chile Vamos coalition who won a seat, said the right should forge new alliances.
“The results we are seeing today make building these agreements essential,” she told reporters.
The government’s popularity has plummeted amid Covid-related poverty and unemployment and due to its attempts to prevent citizens from withdrawing their private pensions.
To pursue NBC Latino at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.