Chilean Right Rejects Democracy

Democracy is built by election not appointment. For a constitution elected by the people.

By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – December 4th marked three months since the Chilean people rejected the constitutional proposal, with nobody being able to deny the overwhelming result, but also we can’t doubt citizens’ demand for a democratic constitution for their country.

The situation of the Right in Chile is pathetic, refusing to agree on a new Constitution process, which would imply creating a new body dedicated to writing up this new Constitution, and its members would have to be elected 100% by the population.

The reason they are against this and offering another body where half of the members are appointed by Congress, answers to the fact that they don’t want to repeat the last experience they had with the Constitutional Convention. They think it would be better to appoint certain experts, which would give us guarantees of a good constitution being written.

The truth is though, it’s hard to get your head around this argument, because it’s one thing to change certain aspects of the process, agreeing and giving up on different points to create a new constitutional organization (margins, expert panel, less members, less time, preestablished template, arbitration, ratification by Congress), and it’s a whole ‘nother thing to accept that constituent members are appointed, which is totally anti-democratic and risky if they want the new Constitution to withhold the stand of Time.

Plus, it’s pretty ridiculous of the Right to point the finger at President Gabriel Boric’s coalition government and the parties that form it, labeling them pigheaded, extremists and radicals, because they don’t want to accept an agreement with these conditions, when they are just asking for the bare minimum, like the president of the Social Convergence Party, congressman Diego Ibáñez so rightfully said.  

Thus, the Right’s proposal not only fails to meet basic democratic standards, but it suggests a process that will once again lack enough legitimacy to withhold the stand of Time, which will lead to political conditions in the future for another uprising, which could lead to a total collapse of national institutions and even greater levels of violence.  

It seems the Right hasn’t learnt anything from what happened in Chile in 2019, coming out of the referendum on an “electoral high”, thinking that those who voted “no” on September 4th, did so for the same reasons they did, as if voters had the same conservative ideological outlook, which has historically held us down under Constitutions written by experts that nobody has elected.

Furthermore, we’re forgetting that the initial referendum to draft a Constitution, held in October 2020, had 79% of voters opt for a body that would have constituent members democratically elected 100%, which needs to be respected if there really is an interest in Chile finally having a legitimate and sustainable constitution, that brings us together as a country, like the ones responsible for the rejection campaign kept on saying.  

As a result, wanting to carry out this process without basic democratic standards, is extreme stubborness, and proves just how much Chile needs a truly liberal Right, that really believes people can decide their own future and the country we want to live in, without the tutelage of experts, who are presented as neutral and objective, but also have their own interests and ideologies.  

Why talk about the new Right deniers in Chile, like the Republican Party for example, which has no shame is saying that the country already decided that it wanted to continue with the Constitution in force, thereby closing the door to any future discussion, after the referendum on September 4th, showing the worst face of a sector that has absolutely no regard for democracy, or human rights.

On the other hand, nobody doubts the mistakes made in the last constitutional process, which many people are responsible for, but taking advantage of that – like the Right are – refusing to see the referendum result as a defeat for all of Chilean society rather than of a particular group, and that Chile needs to reconcile with itself and find a political path going forward that casts aside this built up uneasiness and rage, isn’t very sensible on their part.

Not seeing it like this is to understand democracy as a mere means certain groups have to reach power, and not as a process that needs to be safeguarded and strengthened all the time by everyone, with the Chilean people as the protagonists and the ones with the last word in writing up and ratifying a new constitution. This, even though some groups would like things to stay as they are and/or put hurdles in the way so things never change.

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