Chile will begin writing the country’s new Constitution on July 4, the day the first session of the Constitutional Convention will be held, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said this Sunday (20th).
The opening session of the convention will take place at the headquarters of the National Congress in Santiago and will be dedicated to choosing a president and a vice president of the constituent assembly.
From then onwards, the constituent body, composed equally of 155 representatives, including 17 from indigenous peoples, will have nine months – extendable for another three – to prepare a new magna, which will be submitted to a referendum for mandatory voting in 2022 .
The 155 members were elected at the polls on May 15 and 16, as part of a constituent process stemming from an agreement between political parties to reduce protests against the country’s socioeconomic model that began in October 2019.
“This Constitutional Convention will be a historic milestone. For the first time in our history, we will be democratically writing a new Constitution for Chile. It is a great opportunity to obtain broad and solid agreements that will allow us to create a Constitution that is recognized and respected by all”, commented Pinera.
In the speech, delivered at the Palace of La Moneda, seat of government, the president emphasized that the mission of the constituents “will demand greatness, vision, wisdom and patriotism”, since it must reach agreements with two-thirds of the members of the convention to approve decisions.
Piñera also recalled the limits to the work of the constituents, who, although they have “considerable degrees of autonomy”, do not have the objective of governing or legislating, tasks that correspond to the government and Congress.
In addition, the representative underlined that the convention “cannot attribute to him the exercise of sovereignty, nor assume other attributions that have not been expressly conferred on him”.
The president thus responded to the request made last week by a group of constituencies to “make effective popular sovereignty” of the convention and not to adjust to the limits established for his work in the agreement of political forces in November 2019 that started the process constituent.
The 155 elected constituencies represent different political, social, cultural and ethnic sectors of the country, with people without militancy in traditional political parties being the greatest strength (48).
The surprising success of the independents in the constituent elections in May, in the opinion of specialists, meant the final ratification of the deep crisis of representation suffered by the traditional Chilean political parties.
The Executive’s task during the process will be to provide technical, administrative and financial support for the installation and functioning of the Constitutional Convention.
The current Constitution of Chile dates from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and is considered by some sectors as a straitjacket that does not allow structural changes in the country’s system, which has made it the target of social protests in recent years .