First modification: 06/21/2021 – 02:18
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera announced this Sunday that the Constitutional Convention will begin on July 4, dedicated to writing the new Magna Carta. Replacing the Constitution drawn up under the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship was one of the main demands of the protests that shook the country in 2019.
Chile is close to meeting one of the greatest social demands in recent years: the drafting of a new Constitution, the first in the country’s democratic history to be written by representatives of the citizens.
Next July 4 is the date chosen for the first session of the Constitutional Convention, as announced by President Sebastián Piñera in a speech from the Palacio de la Moneda.
The inaugural session will coincide with another historical event of the nation: the 210 years since the installation of the first National Congress. In it, a president and vice president will be elected to lead the process.
“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 represents a great opportunity to achieve broad and solid agreements, which allow to give rise to a Constitution that is recognized and respected by all, “said Piñera.
The drafting of the new Magna Carta will proceed after that on May 15, Chileans elected the 155 delegates in charge at the polls and that last Friday the Election Qualifying Court announced the results of the elections.
It will be written in equal parts by men and women, something unprecedented in the world. It also includes 17 seats reserved for indigenous peoples.
The Convention will have up to one year to present a draft text, which must then be submitted to a popular vote in a referendum, in which participation will be mandatory.
“This Constitutional Convention must, within a period of nine months, extendable for three additional months, draft and approve a New Constitution for Chile, which must be ratified by the citizens through a plebiscite,” ratified the president.
The Fundamental Charter will replace the one promulgated in 1980 under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Its rewrite is the result of a broad political consensus agreed upon after social protests that erupted in late 2019 over inequality in a nation known for its adoption of free market policies for decades.
Piñera indicates the limits of the Constitutional Convention
The Chilean president recalled that, although the 155 delegates in charge of drafting the new text will have “significant degrees of autonomy,” they will also have responsibilities and limits.
Piñera said that, according to the constitutional mandate, the mission of the Convention “is not to govern or legislate” and that they will not be able to “put an early end to the term of the authorities elected by popular vote.”
The head of state also assured that the delegation “cannot claim to exercise sovereignty, or assume other powers that have not been expressly conferred on it.”
In this way, he responded to the call that a group of constituents made last week to “make effective the popular sovereignty” of the convention and not to adjust to the limits established for their work in the agreement of the political forces in November 2019 that gave start of the constituent process.
Likewise, the Chilean president stressed that the writing team should be governed by dialogue, collaboration and the search for consensus. “Achieve the two-thirds majorities necessary to agree and propose a New Constitution for Chile. Without a doubt, this mission is going to demand greatness, vision, wisdom and patriotism, ”he said.
The current Chilean constitution is considered by some sectors as the straitjacket that sustains the country’s neoliberal system, which led it to be the target of reproaches during the social protests of recent years, and changing it was a required step to advance towards a social welfare state.
With Reuters, EFE and local media