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September 4: Decisive moments for the future of Chile | Opinion

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This September 4, Chilean men and women have, for the first time in their republican history, the opportunity to approve or reject a democratic National Constitution, drawn up by the 155 elected constituents after the 2020 citizen consultation, where the majority opted for change the fundamental charter left by the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1980s.

Unlike the other Constitutions (1833, 1925 and 1980) that were imposed by the winning side after the development of armed social conflicts, the current constitutional proposal, which was born as a response to the 2019 revolts, was drawn up by conventionalists (155) elected equally and democratically, whom the people mandated to draft the constitutional project, added to 17 representatives of the original peoples.

The proposed new Constitution has 338 articles and 57 transitory regulations in II chapters. It would be one of the most extensive Constitutions in the world and the first parity since its genesis. It points to the decentralization of the State, changing the Senate for a regional body and a unicameral parliamentary system, it defines itself as feminist and has more than 100 fundamental rights enshrined such as the right to water, education, health, decent housing, work, among others. If approved, Chile would become a social state of law and also a multinational state, with full recognition of the native peoples.

Although it was not possible to integrate deep-seated demands such as the recovery of mining wealth through nationalization into the new constitutional proposal, the text accounts for a great cultural and political diversity, sheltering proposals that were born in the long road of sectoral mobilizations in almost 30 years of vindictive struggles, which came together in the 2019 Revolt, gathering the vision of the regions and the various social sectors of the country, whose voice had been systematically silenced by the dominant groups that continued to administer power, after the end of the Pinochet dictatorship.

It is necessary to take into account in the analysis that the discussions of the Constitutional Convention took place in the midst of a very polarized presidential and parliamentary electoral process, which culminated in the election of Gabriel Boric, after the presidential second round in December.

The alternate candidate, José Antonio Kast, a representative of the extremely conservative ultra-right, with significant power in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, will concentrate his forces against the Convention before and after the elections, using a large amount of resources and the mass media, to delegitimize the advances and agreements of the constitutional debate, in order to install the idea of ​​an extremely radical constitutional project, with little consensus and drawn up by people without any preparation or experience.

The media and psychological war against the constitutional project did not cease after the presidential election, on the contrary, it became more intense after March 2022, the date of the official installation of the Government of “Apruebo Dignidad” and the beginning of the legislative year in Chile, developing forcefully a campaign of terror, exploiting people’s insecurities, the government’s own mistakes in the first six months, and generating an atmosphere of uncertainty that was fueled by the impact and consequences of the Ukraine/Russia conflict, which managed to raise costs of hydrocarbons, added to the depreciation of the national currency, with a sharp rise in the dollar in recent months.

For its part, the most conservative sector of what was the former Concertación, with emblematic figures of the Christian Democracy, the Party for Democracy, the Radical Party and the “Socialist” Party, have been speaking out for rejection, installing the idea of ​​“ Reject to Reform”. In this direction, the former presidents Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Patricio Aylwin, Ricardo Lagos would demonstrate, despite the fact that there is no legal figure for that position this September 4, since a dichotomous vote will be Approved or Rejected and, if rejected the new constitutional project would eventually return to the old moorings of the dictatorship and the Constitution of 1980, which prevented for 30 years from making substantive reforms to the current Constitution.

For its part, the “Apruebo” sector focused on carrying out a wide territorial deployment, from house to house and developing a main effort of work in 100 communes of the more than 350 in the country, in the territories where the bulk of the population is concentrated. of the electoral world of the “Approve”, dismantling the campaigns of lies and hate of the “Rejection” and carrying a message of hope in the face of the process of changes that will begin with the outbreak of October 2019.

In this group, in addition, the sector most closely linked to the center-left, headed by Boric himself, declare themselves open to making changes to the Constitution if it is approved, on those issues that do not have a broad consensus. In this way, from the most reformist sector of the government coalition, the strong idea of ​​“Approve to Reform” arises, an idea that is not shared by the most left-wing sector of the conglomerate.

Possible scenarios as of September 5

– Scenario 1, APPROVAL wins by a wide margin, over and over 5 points ahead of Rejection:

The Government emerges stronger, it has good room for maneuver to quickly implement the new Constitution, summoning a broad consensus and national unity to make some reforms to the Constitution, without endangering the substantial advances of the new Constitutional text.

Within the government coalition, the most left-wing sector is strengthened and the social democratic option of revising the policy of consensus with the right (Formula coined by the old Concertación at the head of the Government of Chile between 1990-2010) is weakened and the social, regionalist, feminist environmentalist and pluriversity movements are also validated and strengthened.

The extreme right is badly beaten and reproaches the more moderate sectors of the right for the cost of having lost, in a continuation of its crises and struggles for hegemony within its own awning. The most conservative sector of the former agreement that went to the “Rejection to reform”, are left with very little room for maneuver and delegitimized.

– Scenario 2, the APPROVAL wins by a small margin, equal to or less than 5 points ahead of the Rejection.

The Government is left in a slightly more difficult position and could be dragged along by the sector that proposed “Approve to reform” or “Reject to reform”, making concessions with some more far-reaching constitutional reforms, to the detriment of the demands of the movements and the demands of the 2019 Revolt. It would be a complex scenario for political stability and there would be obstacles to being able to implement the new Constitution that would depend on the negotiating capacity and the new correlations of forces within the government conglomerate.

There the position more inclined to reissue agreements with the right and moderate the new Constitution, would have more strength and the sector more to the left and the social movements, will have to show strength to safeguard the new Magna Carta.

– Scenario 3, Win the REJECT by a narrow margin, equal to or less than 5 points ahead of the Reject:

If the Rejection wins, even by one vote, the right in all its expressions, would be strengthened, demanding a “clean slate”, to assert the legal thesis of “If the question raised to the electorate in the ratifying plebiscite is rejected , this Constitution will continue to be in force”, embodied in article 142 of the Pinochet Constitution, or bet on a new constituent process from scratch, with new rules and conditions.

Some of these have already been made public: Summon a new entry plebiscite or, failing that, call a new election of Constituents, demanding limitations such as eliminating the quotas for native peoples and the real possibility of independent candidacies outside the pact, developing a mixed process between a commission of experts agreed upon in Congress and the other half popularly elected, among others. Gabriel Boric has already spoken about this scenario, explaining that if he lost the “I Approve”, considering that the citizens would have already spoken out for a change in the Constitution in the 2020 Plebiscite and also about 100 percent of representatives elected by the population, there would be no other possibility than to immediately call a new electoral process, for a new collegiate body of Conventional Constituents.

However, this scenario would be a serious blow to the leadership of the Government and to Boric himself. Within the government coalition there would have to be an internal critical evaluation and a change of the Ministerial Cabinet would not be ruled out.

– Scenario 4, Win the REJECT with a wide margin, over and over 5 points ahead of the Reject.

This would obviously be the most difficult and complex scenario for the Government of “Aprobo Dignidad” and for the constituent process itself. The hard right would capitalize on the leadership of the entire “Rejection” sector, with the most dogmatic and conservative positions. They would be willing to approve only a few reforms that do not compromise the neoliberal essence, nor its authoritarian or conservative character in value issues.

The three and a half years that Boric’s government has left, he would face an emboldened and revalidated right wing, which would make his way very difficult, not to the point of shaking or overthrowing him, but morally very defensive and without initiative. Within the government coalition, the most left-wing sector would enter into a great contradiction with the center-left sector, greatly straining their relations with the possibility of internal breakdowns or the abandonment of some sectors more linked to social and left-wing movements.

In this scenario, the popular movement would have to pressure from the street to safeguard the process of change that triggered the current constituent and refoundation process, to promote a new process in conditions that safeguard the democratic participation of all sectors and respect for the 78 percent I vote for constitutional change in 2020.

Disclaimer: Via Telesur – Translated by RJ983

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