3 questions to understand how Chile’s new constitution was written after the overwhelming rejection in the previous process
- Paula Molina
- Chile special for BBC News World
“Once again, despite the difficulties, we decided to solve the problems of democracy with more democracy, not with less.”
This is how Chilean President Gabriel Boric assessed the new agreement reached by Congress on Monday to resume the process of drafting a new constitution.
The agreed new rules are the result of nearly 100 days of negotiations That began after the referendum of September 4, 2022, when citizens rejected by 62% the first constitutional proposal drafted by the Convention.
The day after the victory of the Rejection, Borik summoned the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber to “agree as soon as possible on the deadlines and boundaries for a new constitutional process.”
In the face of other legislative urgings and citizens’ concerns such as security, and in response to the demands of opposition parties, the government began to cede primacy to Congress, as An agreement was reached that was endorsed by 14 political parties with parliamentary representation.
According to the signed document, the new constitutional proposal will be drawn up by the 50-member Constituent Assembly from popular elections. The Council will work with a panel of experts appointed by Congress. The approved standards will also be reviewed by the Technical Council elected by the Senate and consisting of 14 legal entities.
For the process to resume under these new rules, and to be able to submit the new proposal to a referendum in November 2023, a new draft constitutional reform must be approved by Congress with immediate discussion by the executive branch.
BBC Mundo presents the content of the agreement, the differences it points out with the previous constituent process and the feedback generated by the document.
1. What was agreed upon?
“Debating and writing today’s Constitution is important and indispensable and requires a level of professionalism, the presence of experts; likewise, it must be done by a body other than Congress, with exclusive dedication.”
This is one of the first paragraphs of the so-called “Chile Agreement”.
According to the document, the drafting of the constitution will begin with the preparation of a draft by the expert committee which will be installed in January 2023.
This panel of experts will consist of 24 people with “unquestionable professional, technical and/or academic paths”, elected equally by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Its members are chosen according to the representation of political forces in Congress, and they are approved by four-sevenths of the votes of each house.
Once in office, the Commission takes its decisions by a three-fifths majority of the legal quorum, and must submit its proposal to the Constitutional Council, which it will join with the right to speak, but not to vote.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Council will be elected by universal and mandatory vote in April 2023 It will have 50 members, while maintaining the standards of parity between men and women and the presence of indigenous seats.
Once it begins its work, in May 2023, the Council may approve, reject or amend the proposal of the Committee of Experts, discuss the rules and the final text of the new constitution and approve it by three-fifths of its votes.
The expert panel and convention will follow gender parity standards.
Finally, criteria approved by both the Committee of Experts and the Constitutional Council will be reviewed by a technical admissions committee of 14 elected by Congress and approved by four-sevenths in both houses.
According to the proposed flight path, The new project c.The constitution will be delivered on October 21, 2023 It will be submitted to a public referendum with a mandatory vote on November 26, 2023.
2. How is it different from the previous operation?
The new agreement marks a marked difference from the previous constitutional process.
This is one of the symbols of the distance between the previous process and the new proposal No member of the dissolved Constitutional Conference may participate in the Committee of Experts Or the now proposed Constitutional Council.
The agreement replaces the term Constitutional Conference with the term Constitutional Council, and reduces the number of members from 155 to 50, and although it retains a 100 percent elected body to draft the new constitution, it is accompanied by a specific committee of experts in Congress, and a technical committee emanating from the House of Representatives. .
Overall, under the new rules, Congress will have more power over the development of the constitutional process. Parliament will have an exclusive role in selecting two of the three cases for the process: the Expert Committee and the Technical Acceptance Committee, which will work with the 100% elected Constituent Assembly.
The new agreement will also grant greater powers to political parties in the founding process. The first conference was elected by a mechanism that favored the election of independent candidates. This time, voting will take place according to the electoral system applied to the Senate, with open lists made up of parties or party pacts. Although the lists may include independent persons, this increases the power of the communities in electing the council.
With regard to indigenous seats – which totaled 17 in the previous agreement – this time these seats in the Constitutional Council will be allocated according to the percentage of the effective vote conducted through balloting of the indigenous seats.
The proposal for a new constitution will not be drawn up from a “white paper”, but from 12 constitutional foundations previously agreed upon by the parties and included in the agreement, in which Chile is defined as a “social and democratic state of law”, the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem are patriotic emblems A bicameral legislature, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, is enshrined.
3. Who supports the agreement and who rejects it?
The agreement has the support of a broad spectrum of parties that includes today’s left and right forces in government, members of the former Concertación (including the Socialist, Radical and Christian Democratic parties) and today’s right and centre-right groups. in opposition.
Within the formations with parliamentary representation, the Republican Party, on the far right of the political spectrum, left the agreement, arguing that the country did not need a new constitution.
The People’s Party, which defines itself as a group “without political ideologies,” and which has criticized the negotiations as “political cooking,” was also excluded from the agreement.
One of the main topics of discussion in the days leading up to the signing of the agreement was how the constituent body should be formed. The government parties advanced to a one hundred percent body elected by the citizens, while the opposition forces promoted a mixed convention, with the votes of experts appointed by Congress.
“Incomplete agreement is better than no agreement,” he said sLives in Porec In the final days of negotiations, where it was decided to include both options: an elected constitutional council with the right to speak and vote, and an elected and appointed committee of experts in Congress which would draft a draft and would only have the right to speak in the process.
Representative Javier Macaya, who persevered in the negotiations even in the face of threats from extremist sectors, emphasized that the agreement “is not a victory in itself, but a re-start of the foundational path.”
The parliamentarian explained that the previously approved constitutional foundations, and the development of a preliminary draft designed by the expert committee, would avoid “reformulation of experiments”.
In the Communist Party, former presidential candidate and mayor Daniel Jadeau, another signatory to the agreement, used social networks to ensure that At the convention, “the ghosts of controlled democracy persist”but added that the PC would join the process of “a space dispute for those who still believe they are the owners of Chile”.
“We were expecting a 100% elected body … but we need 4/7 in Congress, we need the votes of the right,” Representative Diego Ibáñez, leader of the pro-government Front Amplio, told Radio Coprativa. .
“We know that this will be a constitution that will not leave everyone happy,” Ibáñez added, “but that it will establish a minimum, social democratic state of law that will enable social transformations and that this will unite us in a new social pact.”
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC News World. Download and activate the new version of our application in order not to miss our best content.