Chileans Elect New Delegates to Draft a New Constitution

The vote was to elect 50 members to the Constitutional Council

HAVANA TIMES – Chileans went to the polls on Sunday to elect a 50-member Constituent Council to make a second attempt to draft a new constitution to replace the one in-force since the Pinochet dictatorship.

Once a new draft is completed a referendum will be held in December for its approval or rejection.  Last September voters overwhelmingly rejected the first draft forcing a new process.

Most of the 353 candidates were linked to political parties such as the Republican Party -extreme rightwing- and the People’s Party -conservative populists- or to the electoral coalitions: Todo por Chile -center left-, Chile Seguro -right- Unidad Para Chile -close to President Gabriel Boric. There were also be three independent candidates, from three regions. Jorge Sepulveda (La Araucania), Liset Quilodran (Aysen), and Claudio Barrientos (Magallanes) and two candidates from native peoples, who could be elected with a special ballot if they gather 1.5% of the votes nationwide. If one of them or both are elected, the council would be increased to 51 or 52 members, accordingly, reported AP.

The Constituent Council will have 50 members, 25 of them men and 25 women. Each voter could vote for only one candidate and the preliminary results will be subject to the principle of gender parity from party candidates.

The drafting of a new Constitution was the great promise with which in 2021 then-President, Sebastian Piñera, managed to appease a wave of protests that had paralyzed the country, noted AP. A constituent convention with a majority of independents, although left-leaning, undertook a first attempt that ended up being rejected in September 2022, already with Boric in power (elected in December 2021 over far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast). A large majority of voters (almost 62%) said “no” although eight out of ten Chileans had said in a previous referendum that they wanted a new Constitution. Boric had supported the initial draft.

Sunday’s Results

According to preliminary data from the Chilean Electoral Service (SERVEL) the voting went as follows:

With 99.44% of the 38,665 polling stations reporting, 12,415.729 Chileans voted.

Republican Party – 35.42% of the valid votes and 22 seats on the Constitutional Council

Unidad para Chile – 28.57% of the votes and 17 seats.

Chile Seguro – 21.07% of the votes and 11 seats.

Todo por Chile – 8.96% and 0 seats.

Partido de la Gente – 5.48% and 0 seats.

Independientes – 0.50% and 0 seats.

As this second attempt to draft a new constitution bogged down for over a half year in Congress, a sizeable minority of Chileans took a no-interest approach, while others rejected the heavy influence of the political parties. Voting is obligatory, but that sentiment was expressed by 16.98% null votes and 4,55% blank votes for a total of invalid ballots of 21.53%.

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