By Andres Kogan Valderrama
HAVANA TIMES – Gabriel Boric’s historic triumph in the second round of presidential elections in Chile, on November 19th, is not only unprecedented because it breaks the political duopoly that has governed the country for the past 30 years, but also because it consolidates a constitutional reform process that is underway. A process that would have been in great danger had the far-right candidate Jose Anytonio Kast won the election.
While the outcome remained unclear after the first round of voting in November, given previous electoral experiences in Chile, where progressive forces established themselves above more conservative groups in the constitutional plebiscite and the election of the Constituent Assembly, the chance of the Conservatives winning back ground after the runoff vote, is now completely off the table.
Thus, the high total turnout (55.65%) and vote in Gabriel Boric’s favor (55.87%), made him not only the youngest president and the presidential candidate to win the most votes in Chilean history (4,620,890), but also as the president who will sign the first legitimate and democratically written Constitution in the country, after it is approved by popular vote.
Within this context, Gabriel Boric understands that his political role is a lot more important than that of other presidents previously elected in Chile, as he has come at a time when the country is changing eras. Such was clear when he said the following in his inaugural speech as president-elect: “We will defend the constitutional process, which is a matter of global pride. It is the first time we are writing a Constitution in a democratic way. We will safeguard this process so that it is a Carta Magna that is a fruit of agreements and not of imposition.”
In keeping with this speech, it says a great deal about president Gabriel Boric that the first person he called when he found out the election results of the second round was the president of the Constitutional Convention, Elisa Loncon, which is a very good sign of what will come in the future for the current constitutional process.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Boric’s visit to the Constitutional Convention, two days after having been elected president, is a stark difference to that of Sebastian Piñera, who was unable to go to a place that is so important for the country’s future. Piñera even tried to sway Boric, with statements about what the new Constitution should include.
On the contrary, Gabriel Boric has been very careful in his stataments about the Constitutional Convention, saying that it will not be guided by the president, because he knows that his role is to accompany the process, always respecting this body of power’s autonomy and capacity to work independently of the ruling excecutive.
As a result, the responsibility weighing on Boric’s shoulders is huge, but it won’t be carried by a single political party, coalition or certain group, but by millions of Chileans who demanded to be a part of the building a new State, as well as by hundreds of social organizations who focus on Human Rights and the environment.
Consequently, the support and care citizens have had for the Constitutional Convention is key, given the great slander campaign in the mass media and a Right in ruin, which can only resort to defaming the most inclusive, participatory, binding and universal body we’ve ever had as a country, with its lies.
They can say whatever they want about the Constitutional Convention, but it is by far the institutional space that best represents Chile, in all of its diversity. As a country, we have been used to illegitimate and authoritarian institutions made by and for the elite, leaving the great majority out of the equation, and having to subordinate ourselves to the laws and legal code tailored to a select few.
Plus, it says a lot that the Constitutional Convention respects participatory democracy with what came before the new Constitution was drafted, as well as the popular initiative of the reform, self-organized meetings, compulsory public audiences, national days of discussion, forums, community councils, regional week, and indigenous consultation.
We are definitely all witnesses and part of a political process that is completely different and unlike anything we’ve ever seen as Chileans for centuries. It will surely break away from the State that has been hijacked by national and international economic elites for centuries, since the 1833 Portalian Constitution, which established the foundations for imposing a completely exclusive rule of power in the country, that denies existing plurality.