Chile Rejects Constitution That Would Have Banned ‘Job Insecurity’ and Disbanded the Senate
On Sunday, Chilean voters rejected a proposed constitution that an elected assembly had been drafting since 2021. The 54,000-word document would have replaced the free market–friendly 1980 constitution, banned “job insecurity,” abolished the Senate, and massively expanded welfare programs.
Voting in the referendum was mandatory. Surveys conducted by Pulso Ciudadano in the months prior to the referendum projected the new constitution would fail, but no poll accurately predicted what turned out to be a 61.9 percent to 38.1 percent landslide rejection of the draft constitution.
President Gabriel Boric, who supported the document, says Sunday’s rejection shows the efficiency of Chile’s democratic system, and the government will try again to write a constitution that works for all Chileans.
“We have the opportunity to build the foundations of a new Chile,” Boric said in a speech following the vote, “collecting the best in our history, embarking us on a journey that strengthens us as a country and as a community.”
Enacted in 1980 during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s current constitution promoted the privatization of industry and social services. Through the amendment process, it helped lower inflation and poverty rates, cut red tape, and increase gross domestic product over the following 40 years. The country’s free market economy has made it a model in the region.
But in 2011, student protests erupted over “unacceptable inequality,” with protesters demanding economic and social change to address the gaps between the rich and poor. Leaders of the movement said the Pinochet-era constitution was largely to blame. In October 2020, a year after violent protests shook the country, 78 percent of Chilean voters opted to replace Chile’s constitution.
The proposed replacement, drafted by a constitutional assembly elected in May 2021, would have permitted property and asset seizures by legislative decree, disbanded the Senate, ended school choice, mandated gender parity in all public institutions, and granted social rights that would expand the role of the state in health care, education, and housing.
It is true, as Boric stated in his speech, that the “vast majority” of Chileans want change. But it appears that voters were wary about the length of the document, its vagueness and breadth, and its numerous social proposals that seemed to go too far left.
“The constitution that was written now leans too far to one side and does not have the vision of all Chileans,” one voter told the Associated Press.
Boric has made it clear tha
Article from Reason.com