Chilean Voters Choose Independents to Draft New Constitution

Chile’s center-right ruling coalition failed to obtain a critical one-third of seats in the body that will draft the country’s new constitution.

With 90 percent of the votes counted, candidates supported by President Sebastian Pinera’s Chile Vamos coalition had only won a fifth of the required seats while independents had gained the most seats. 

New proposals will require two-thirds approval and without a third of the delegates, the government may struggle to block changes to the constitution. 

The vote to pick 155 citizens to rewrite the constitution comes after intense protests began in October 2019 over inequality and elitism. Chile’s current constitution was drafted during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and is widely believed to favor big businesses over the rights of citizens. The current constitution also does not mention indigenous people. 

CNN’s local channel in Chile projected independents would gain 45 seats, while Chile Vamos would win 39, the center-left 25, the far-left 28 and a small coalition would win one seat. Seventeen seats have been reserved for Chile’s indigenous communities. 

Pinera said his government and other political parties should heed the “loud and clear” message that they had not remedied the citizens’ concerns. 

He also said it was a “great opportunity” for Chileans to create a more “fair, inclusive, prosperous and sustainable country.”

 Pinera’s coalition sought at least a third of seats due to requirement that any proposal for the new constitution needs at least two-thirds approval. 

Marcela Cubillos, a senior figure at the Chile Vamos coalition, said the results make it clear that the right needs to make new alliances. 

“The results that we are seeing today make the construction of these agreements essential,” she said

Gabriel Boric, a leading member of Chile’s far-left Broad Front coalition, said the vote allows for big economic changes. 

“We are looking for a new treaty for our Indigenous populations, to recover our natural resources, to build a state that guarantees universal social rights,” he said. “The right doesn’t have its third — we are going to start from scratch and build a brand new Chile.”

Changing the constitution was a central demand that emerged after 2019’s fierce protests. Since then, the government’s popularity has taken a sharp turn amid high rates of COVID-related unemployment and poverty to due its attempts to block citizens from drawing from their privately-held pensions. 

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