Chile held an election to determine who will draft their new constitution as well as elections for councilors, mayors and governors.
Constitutional convention context
Chile’s current Constitution dates back forty years and was drafted by the military junta of former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Violent protests against the current government of Sebastian Piñera in 2019 lead to the decision of holding a referendum on whether to draft a new constitution. In 2020
78% of voters opted to draft a new constitution.
As the old constitution was never seen as “legitimized”, voting on scrapping it and writing a new one is historically significant. Augusto Pinochet was the embodiment of human rights violations. Years of inequality saw Chileans voting not only for a new constitution, but to also distance themselves from the Pinochet regime.
The former constitution was based on a neoliberal model and resulted in inequalities throughout the country. One example of such inequalities is the value of public pensions for the poorest of the population. These pensions of just over 200 dollars a month are equal to approximately half of the minimum wage. Chile’s political elite failed to assess the country’s inequalities and the saga that started with the massive 2019 protests is moving along.
Following the 2020 plebiscite, the recent elections on the 15th and 16th of May, 2021, were the next step in establishing a new constitution. The remaining steps are to draft it and ratify it. As of now, Chile’s right-wing coalition does not hold sufficient seats in the assembly to block progressive bills from passing.
Chile’s new constitution is likely to be drastically different from the current one.
Election results and Chile’s Green Party
As mentioned above, the Chilean elite (Chile Vamos coalition) did not secure the seats they were hoping for in the constitutional convention. Out of a possible 155 seats, they managed to yield a weak 37 seat result. With the rest of the seats being distributed among other coalitions, Indigenous representatives, and, surprisingly, 47 independent candidates.
The convention was guaranteed to be gender balanced before the vote and a timeline of one year is allotted to draft the document. Following the draft
, a vote will take place to ratify the new constitution.
The Chilean Green Party (Partido Ecologista Verde) did not secure any seats in the constitutional convention. They did however significantly increase their city council positions going from 4 to 46.
Partido Ecologista Verde is also preparing for the upcoming presidential elections where they are already registering parliamentary candidates. The party’s president Félix González has a clear view of politics:
He is confident that the party’s position will keep improving.
If the May 15th and 16th elections are to serve as precedent for the people’s desires, green victories are a realistic possibility in November.
An overall victory is acknowledged by Chileans. A new constitution will close a dark chapter and allow new progressive ideas and policies to be established. As for now, the old constitution remains in place until the new one is written and ratified.