Sep 6, 2022 - World

What's next for Chile's constitution

Chile President Gabriel Boric stands behind a podium and in front of two microphones during a news conference on Sunday

President Gabriel Boric of Chile after Sunday’s referendum. Photo: Presidencia de Chile/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Chilean government and opposition have started talks over how to proceed after voters soundly rejected a new progressive constitution.

The big picture: Nearly 62% of the 12.8 million votes cast Sunday were against the proposed draft, which would have drastically changed the country. Voting was mandatory.

  • The draft would have set up national health care and pension systems, as well as enshrined reproductive, education, housing and Indigenous rights. But the wording of how those would come about was vague and misinformation spread, creating uncertainty.

President Gabriel Boric on Monday afternoon convened the first of various meetings with all political parties to coordinate possible next steps.

  • Boric, who championed the text, had said prior to the vote that there should be another drafting process if the proposal was rejected.
  • Some opposition members in Congress have expressed support for restarting the process, but others say lawmakers should just make amendments to the current constitution instead.

Between the lines: Writing a new constitution has been slowly gathering support since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990.

  • The current one dates to Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, and critics say it fostered a highly unequal society.
  • Ex-President Michelle Bachelet launched a process to rewrite the constitution in 2015, but it didn’t go anywhere.
  • Two years ago, after mass protests demanding changes and a social safety net, almost 80% of Chileans voted in favor of drafting a new constitution and chose mostly non-politicians to do so.
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