you can do that? How to change the Magna Carta?
(CNN Spanish) – After the resounding rejection of a new constitution proposal in a referendum on Sunday, President Gabriel Borek’s government quickly made clear that the process, for it, had not yet come to an end. Talks began about the possibility of holding a new constitutional conference. but how?
The result of the referendum, he said, “requires our institutions and political actors to work harder, with more dialogue, more respect and affection until we come up with a proposal that interprets us all, gives confidence, and unites us as a nation.” Borek after consulting the citizen in it Nearly 62% rejected the text provided by the agreement. On the following day, he met with the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives to: in his words“Select the path” that will allow “progress towards a new constitutional process as quickly as possible.”
Camila Vallejo, a government spokeswoman, has moved in this direction, asserting that the government will “facilitate and accompany” a new founding process, in this case, “the seat of champions will be in the National Convention.”
Victor Manuel Aviles HernandezD., an attorney and professor in the Department of Public Law at the University of Chile, explained to CNN en Español what steps they would have to follow if they wanted to move forward with this call. “From a legal point of view, what corresponds is to submit to the National Congress a constitutional reform bill that creates a mechanism from scratch.” In other words: Congress must agree, by a four-sevenths majority, to activate a new constitutional convention to craft another text.
The expert explained that although any legislator can take this initiative, the most logical thing is for the president to submit a proposal to the Congress and that the main issue within the framework of the political situation is pre-negotiating with the parties. “The president should not send to Congress anything that has not been discussed with all parties, including the opposition, because the president’s political position today is very weak” and he cannot expose himself to parliamentarians who reject his formula, Evils said. That Borek announced a series of changes in his government.
This action does not mean calling a referendum to consult citizens on the formation of a new agreement – which is called an “entry” referendum and which the authorities have ruled out – but that it will end in a public referendum with the participation of citizens that will or does not give any green light to another text to replace the existing constitution that It dates back to the era of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Key to the Next Process: Formation of the Constitutional Conference
“Most likely” is that a national congressional agreement for a new agreement will include details on how voters will be elected, according to Aviles, which could address specific issues such as parity and the level of reserved seats.
One of the points under scrutiny was precisely the formation of the agreement. In this regard, Vallejo acknowledged that “there are citizens who may not have had the space to express themselves but who have an opinion” and that they were not “probably” represented in the Convention, not in Congress and other institutions (Meanwhile, speaking of a new agreement, he stated that “equivalence remains” and that it was not a point where setbacks could be allowed).
Evils, for his part, explained that the number of seats reserved for indigenous peoples, as well as the way independents’ participation was enabled, were key factors in understanding the outcome. Also getting into the debate now, according to the attorney, is the role that experts should play in the process.
Can they change the constitution without holding a new constitutional convention?
Yes, Avels said, “there is no obligation to have a constitutional convention.” Congress currently has the power to amend the Constitution. Such modifications can be of a procedural nature, such as those required, for example, to elect a new agreement, or “can enter into substantive issues”, modifying provisions to which it is understood that changes must be made.
The result of a process of this kind could be a constitution with substantial amendments. If such a mechanism were to be implemented, although it is clearly not the path the government appears to be proposing, there would likely also be a final public referendum.
Jose Viacava Gatica, an academic at the University of Chile’s School of Government, told CNN Cafe that perhaps one of the great lessons of the failed process is that the state cannot maintain a “permanent process of constitutional agreement.” “There are some here who argue that this should be resolved quickly in the coming months, and it looks like another year will be an unusually long time to cause uncertainty in life and in the markets,” he said.
From a constitutional point of view, there is no specific term to consider if the constitutional convention option is advanced. However, there are practical issues to consider. The first, according to Aviles, is that the electoral district, Serville, indicated the need for approximately four months to prepare an electoral process with these characteristics.
On the other hand, it must be taken into account that there is an “electoral cycle that begins in 2024 with municipal elections and continues in 2025 with parliamentary and presidential elections.”
Therefore, between the needs of the electoral service and the political cycle, everything points to a limited process that has a number: 2023.
With information from Germán Padinger and Carolina Melo of CNN en Español.