Will the Experts Fail as the Independents did in Chile?

Now it is the turn of the experts instead of the independents to draft a new Chilean constitution.

The role of political parties, civil society organizations and the media should be to strongly contribute to citizen education.

By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – A few days after the signing of the Agreement for Chile, as the new constitutional process in the country was called, the excessive importance that has been given in the mainstream media to the so-called experts is worrisome.

I raise it, since beyond agreeing with the criticisms of the appointment from the parliament of a committee of experts that will prepare a constitutional draft, I feel too many expectations have been generated in these people, who are presented to us as pure, objective and those in charge of guaranteeing a good Magna Carta.

The different public opinion polls show the presence of experts in this new process becomes an imperative need, as if without them we would be lost to develop a new constitution that is up to the task.

Hence, it becomes impossible not to recall and make the parallel between what is being generated by the experts today and the independents at the beginning of the previous constituent process, the later were also presented as the great saviors of the country.

In fact, recalling a bit, the independents were also spoken of with great hope and not as politicians, so they would do things right, supposedly being far from any kind of corrupt practice and free from ideological fanaticism.

In other words, in both cases, in the idealization of the experts as with the independents, there is complete contempt for political parties and institutions, which ends up damaging any attempt to build a country with a better way of doing politics.

It should not surprise us, then, that both the notion of independents and experts are extremely vague and not clearly defined, since what ultimately matters is that they are not people from political parties, which would be something positive in itself.

Consequently, the risk of depositing so much expectation with a particular group is that at the slightest mistake made by some, the feeling towards them can be completely inverted and they end up being seen as more of the same.

This is what happened with the independents in the last period of the Constitutional Convention, cataloged by many as the main reason for the defeat on the September 4th referendum, and for this reason they have been marginalized in the new process through lists.

The reasons for such disenchantment with the independents was that they were not as independent as indicated, since they defended interests and ideologies, which is why they acted the same or worse than the political parties.

In other words, by idealizing the notion of the independent, as someone pure and alien to power relations, it quickly went from being someone trustworthy to someone who was detrimental to the country and who betrayed public faith, which reinforced the existing malaise to everything related to politics.

For this reason, the experts can end up the same as the independents, if they are seen with the passage of time as people who did not meet expectations, putting the approval of the new constitution at risk again, and if a new draft is rejected we will not have a new opportunity.

That said, the underlying problem is neither the independents nor the experts themselves, beyond the fact that the latter are appointed by Congress in the new constitutional process, but rather in a society that is still very depoliticized, although I wanted to believe the opposite, after the 2019 uprising.  

The risk, therefore, that history repeats itself and that responsibility is once again placed on a new constitutional text, now through a group made up of some supposedly wise and enlightened, who will not even be democratically elected, becomes much more dangerous than before, also considering the strong existing social immobility, after the defeat on September 4.

Therefore, the role of political parties, civil society organizations and the media, especially public ones such as TVN, should be to strongly contribute to citizen education and to rescue the sense of politics, so deliberately damaged during the dictatorship and after decades of neoliberalism, which strongly depoliticized society and reduced Chileans to mere consumers and voluntary voters.

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