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Chilean political parties seek to save the second constitutional project from a new defeat


Congress of Chile.  REUTERS
Congress of Chile. REUTERS

Chilean political parties sought on Wednesday to save a second constitutional project from an electoral defeat that would keep the Constitution implemented by the military in 1981 in force.

The Chilean electorate overwhelmingly rejected a new constitutional text last year and now, according to coincident surveys, virtually half of those consulted would vote against the second project that was proposed. plebiscite will take place on December 17.

Faced with the possibility that the new Magna Carta will also be rejected, six political parties from the center-left, center-right and extreme right mobilized this week and appointed a technical commission to agree on a project that would allow them to launch a common campaign in favor of the text.

The Constitutional Council, dominated by the far-right, concluded on Wednesday the drafting of the second project that includes several provisions rejected by the leftist ruling party.

Among these is the one that states that “the law protects the life of the unborn” because, if it were enshrined in a new Constitution, it could collide with the law that allows abortion in certain circumstances. Others are the one that reduces the number of deputies from 155 to 138, the rejection of gender parity in Congress and the conditioning of the right to strike to collective bargaining.

Although the text includes that Chile is a social and democratic State of law, the ruling party believes that it does not express it with the necessary force.

FILE - Members of LGBTQ+ organizations hand out stickers in support of a new draft of the Constitution in Santiago, Chile, on August 15, 2022, which was later rejected by voters in a plebiscite.  The political parties will present a second draft Constitution for voters to decide in a new plebiscite on December 17.  (AP Photo/Esteban Félix, File)
FILE – Members of LGBTQ+ organizations hand out stickers in support of a new draft of the Constitution in Santiago, Chile, on August 15, 2022, which was later rejected by voters in a plebiscite. The political parties will present a second draft Constitution for voters to decide in a new plebiscite on December 17. (AP Photo/Esteban Félix, File)

The president of the Communist Party, Lautaro Carmona, stated that the proposal is a “monstrosity” and that it is the “deepening of neoliberal capitalism.”

The text will pass next Saturday into the hands of a Committee of Experts of 24 members who can suggest changes to the council but based on transversal political agreements in order to obtain 30 of the 50 votes of the drafting body.

Of the 50 seats on the council, the far-right Republican Party has 22, the traditional right 11 and the center-left has 17. Republicans also have the power of veto.

Jaime Quintana, president of the ruling Party for Democracy, recalled that “for more than a week we have been insisting on the need for a broad agreement to avoid a new failure of the constitutional process.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Socialist Party, Paulina Vodanovic, was more optimistic than Carmona, pointing out that “it is still possible, it is still time to build a Constitution for everyone.”

Although the ruling party and the traditional opposition, with 17 and 11 votes, respectively, will add their votes, they would need at least two supports from the extreme right to reach 30 votes.

Arturo Squellapresident of Republican Partysaid that in reality “there are no red lines” although he warned that there are points on which they will not compromise, among them the amendment that indicates that the law protects the life of the unborn.

Since its founding in 2019, the Republican Party has refused to change the Constitution bequeathed by the military dictatorship (1973-1990).

If the text is approved in the December plebiscite, it will be published in the official gazette and will come into force 10 days later, according to the current Constitution, which does not specify what will happen if there is a second consecutive rejection. Interpretations are varied: some experts say that the 1981 Magna Carta will remain in force, others that Congress can initiate the reform and some that a third project should be made.

(With information from AP)



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