Chile Struggles with Low Voter Enthusiasm as Key Deadlines Approach for New Constitution

As Chile’s new constitution faces crucial deadlines, the country is grappling with voter fatigue and diminishing support for the process. The president of Chile’s Constitutional Council, Beatriz Hevia, acknowledges the challenge of winning over public support. Despite this, the Council remains confident in meeting the October deadline for their draft.

In the coming weeks, Council committees will analyze proposed modifications to the preliminary draft, with the voting process expected to conclude by early September. The process will then move to the Council’s floor, culminating in a final recommendation the following month.

Hevia, a trained lawyer, is overseeing Chile’s second attempt to rewrite its constitution within two years. The previous attempt was rejected by voters in 2022 due to concerns of radicalism. The current effort is favored by right-wing factions dominating the Council.

However, a new issue has emerged – voter apathy resulting from a prolonged process spanning over two years and involving three national votes. A recent Cadem poll revealed that only 26% of respondents plan to support the proposed constitution. Furthermore, 59% admitted to having little to no knowledge of the work conducted by the Commission of Experts, responsible for initiating the current charter rewrite earlier this year.

Hevia believes that voter frustration stems from the failure of the previous attempt at constitution reform. People had placed their hope in the previous process, which ultimately proved ineffective. Therefore, skepticism and reluctance to invest in a new process have arisen.

The movement to replace Chile’s current constitution, which dates back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, was sparked by social unrest in 2019. However, the country’s recent shift toward the right has set the stage for a substantially different constitution than the one presented to voters in 2022.

Hevia, a member of the conservative Partido Republicano, initially opposed changing the constitution but emphasizes that the Council is open to diverse opinions. Their goal is to craft a constitution that caters to the interests of all Chileans and demonstrates a commitment to unity over personal agendas.

With tight timelines, the Council faces the challenge of making modifications to the draft by October. The subsequent steps include a report by a Commission of Experts and a final draft referendum scheduled for December 17. If approved by a simple majority, the new constitution will become law.

Hevia believes that by collectively recognizing the need to move on from a period of uncertainty and instability for the sake of social and economic progress, the path to agreements will be smoother.

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