SANTIAGO, Chile — A far-right party led the vote count Sunday night after Chileans voted for a 50-member committee to draft a new constitution after voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed deal last year that was considered one of the best in the world. . the most progressive.
It was a significant defeat for centre-left Chilean President Gabriel Boric, with the vote widely seen as a referendum on his government, which currently has an approval rating of around 30%.
With 91% of the polls up, the Republican Party, led by far-right Jose Antonio Cast, who lost a presidential runoff to Borek in 2021, leads with 35% of the vote. The Republican Party has long opposed changing the constitution imposed by the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
The coalition of left-wing parties allied with Borek, Unity for Chile, finished second with 28 percent of the vote. The centre-right Safe Chile coalition was third with 21%. Blank or invalid votes accounted for 21% of the total.
Preliminary calculations indicated that the Republican Party ended up with about 22 deputies in the Constitutional Council, compared to 17 deputies for the Unity of Chile and 11 for a safe Chile.
If the two centre-right groups, Republicans and Safe Chile, unite, it could leave very little room for Borek’s allies to influence the final text. The initial tally indicates that left-wing coalitions will not reach the 21 seats needed to veto or force consensus on some issues.
Sunday’s vote marks a significant milestone in efforts to move forward a new constitution proposal after 62% of voters rejected the previous constitution proposal in September. It was the first in the world to be written by a conference equally divided between male and female delegates.
Critics said the document was too long, lacked clarity, and went too far in some of its measures, including describing Chile as a plurinational state, creating indigenous autonomous regions, and prioritizing the environment and gender equality.
Once installed, the 50 panelists will not start from scratch, but will work from a preliminary document written by 24 experts that has been approved by Congress. The commission’s proposal is due to be submitted before a referendum in December.
The path to rewriting Chile’s constitution began after violent student protests in 2019, sparked by a hike in public transportation fares, but quickly expanded to include broader demands for more equality and more social protection.
Congress managed to subdue the protests by calling a referendum on a new constitution, which 80% of the electorate agreed was necessary.
Much of that enthusiasm seems to have faded. Before Sunday’s vote, polls showed little interest in the constitutional process.
“I decided to vote because it is mandatory,” said Luis Rodriguez, the 70-year-old retiree who voted on Sunday. I don’t care about the result. »
Another retiree, David Pino, 65, said he also voted out of obligation. Fines for those who do not vote can reach $230.