Chile considers another constitution

Chile’s Constitutional Council, a body charged with proposing a new constitution, submitted a new draft Wednesday ahead of a nationwide referendum in December.

Sound familiar? In 2019, amid widespread social upheaval, Chileans set out to replace the constitution first written under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. But last year, voters rejected a draft which would’ve (for example):

  • 🏥 Implemented a state-funded health system
  • 👫 Mandated gender parity in government and companies, and
  • 🐮 Recognised animals as sentient beings to be protected.

So now a new Council is proposing this second draft, which (for example):

  • Exempts principal residences from property taxes
  • Prohibits workers in certain sectors from striking, and
  • Expels foreigners who enter unauthorised (except in asylum cases).

According to polling (🇨🇱), just 24% of folks support this draft.

Intrigue’s take: In 2020, almost 80% of Chileans agreed via referendum that the country needed a new constitution. That was the easy bit.

The hard bit was then agreeing what exactly a new constitution should say (and not say). And these days, how do you even do that? Our above random sample of last year’s 178 page draft, and this year’s shorter draft, captures just some of the deep philosophical and ideological issues at play here.

So when, as seems likely, Chileans reject this latest proposal, it might be a reminder for us all that constitutions are hard.

And that’s partly why they’re valuable.

Also worth noting:  

  • President Boric has ruled out (🇨🇱) a third referendum if this one fails. That would leave Chile with its current constitution, which has been amended dozens of times since promulgation in 1980.
  • France has had 15 constitutions since 1789.
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