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Chile gives thumbs down to progressive new constitution

It was an overwhelming “no” that Chileans gave to a proposed new constitution on Sunday – a document that would have been one of the world’s most progressive charters.

While nearly 80 percent of Chileans voted to draft a new constitution in 2020, nearly 62 percent of voters rejected the new text with 99.74 percent of ballot boxes counted.

Conceding defeat late on Sunday night in downtown Santiago, spokesperson for the approval campaign Karol Cariola, said the mandate to draft a new text remained in force.

“We are committed to creating conditions to channel that popular will and the path that leads us to a new constitution,” Ms Cariola said.

President Gabriel Boric and his government were in support of the voted-down new text, continue to be bent on working out another one and giving it another try. President Boric said a cabinet reshuffle was on the horizon and that the government would produce a new draft.

Los anhelos de cambio y dignidad exigen a nuestras instituciones y actores políticos que trabajemos con más empeño, diálogo, respeto y cariño, hasta arribar a una propuesta que nos interprete a todas y todos. Para allá vamos. Que viva la democracia y que viva Chile!

— Gabriel Boric Font (@gabrielboric) September 5, 2022

We have to listen to the voice of the people. Not just today, but the last intense years we’ve lived through,” President Boric said. “That anger is latent, and we can’t ignore it.”

He went on to say that he would collaborate with congress and different sectors of society to draft another text with lessons from Sunday’s rejection.

The climate for constructive lawmaking debate seems to exist as centre-left and right-wing parties that drove the reject campaign have also agreed to negotiate to prepare a new text.

I think there are two things that explain what has just happened. One is a rejection of the Boric government,” political analyst Cristobal Bellolio told Reuters, adding that the other was identity politics in regards to indigenous and other issues.

The purpose of the rejected text was to satisfy some of the grievances that fueled widespread violent protests in late 2019. The charter focused on social rights, the environment, gender parity and indigenous rights, marking a leaping evolution from its market-friendly constitution dating back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Possibly the most impressive aspect of the ballot was the turnout with nearly 13 million of 15 million Chileans and residents eligible to vote casting ballots across more than 3,000 voting centres.

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