Chile rejects new constitution, Boric vows to push for change
The people of Chile reject the referendum aimed at reversing the country's conservative constitution propped up under US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet, though change could still be underway.
Chileans voted Sunday on a constitutional overhaul that would have seen their country shift from its neoliberal and conservative ideals dominating the state for decades and revert to its socialist origins. However, the referendum was met with disapproval from the public.
Santiago's bid to replace the constitution propped up by US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet, who carried a bloody coup in the country to serve Washington's interests, was rejected by almost 62%, with only 38% voting in favor of the overhaul. The results exceeded the expectations of the conservative Chilean opposition after 99% of the votes were counted.
Despite the failure of his proposed constitution, Chilean President Gabriel Boric vowed to continue working on reforming the political landscape of the country.
Boric, the leftist president that has been in office for nearly six months, accepted his defeat but stressed that he would do "everything on my part to build a new constitutional itinerary."
The Chilean people demonstrated that "they want and value democracy. They are counting on it to overcome our differences and to progress," he said.
Boric then called on all the Chilean political forces and factions to "put Chile ahead of any legitimate differences and agree as soon as possible on the deadlines and parameters for a new constitutional process."
The people of Chile have previously voted to change the constitution drawn up in 1980 under Pinochet's dictatorship, but all attempts have been met with failure due to the conservative nature of the Chilean society. Opinion polls also suggested that Sunday's bid would be rejected, though it was projected to be more accepted, with a rejection of up to 10 percentage points.
The rejection of the constitutional changes prompted criticism from the opposition, so as to mock the leftist government; "President Boric: this defeat is also your defeat," said Jose Antonio Kast, the far-right leader.
Kast has long been an outspoken fan of Pinochet, the man who drove the Chilean economy into the ground to benefit himself, his strongmen, and the United States - all at the expense of the people of Chile. The far-right opponent had lost in December an election run-off to Boric.
Pinochet was essentially propped up as a means of toppling socialist president Salvador Allende, the country's first socialist president voted into office on September 4, 1970, and sworn in two months later. It was no coincidence that the referendum on the vote took place on the 4th of September, 52 years after Allende was voted into power, as it could have been done in a bid to symbolize a sort of "resurrection" of a socialist Chile.
The constitution was predicted to be rejected due to certain clauses of the proposed draft of 388 articles, though it was the culmination of years of demonstrations against the former government, which started in 2019.
Conservative UDI party president Javier Macaya celebrated the "defeat for the refounding of Chile", though he said his party would fulfill its commitment to work toward a new constitution.
Boric's opponents have mainly voiced concern about the government granting the Indigenous peoples of Chile more prominence, power, and overall equality, as among the articles was a clause enshrining new power and representation for the Indigenous population, which makes up some 13% of the country's populace of 19 million.
The constitution included clauses that legalized abortion, protecting the environment and natural resources, enshrined gender and ethnic equality, as well as reversed many neoliberal policies.
Many have voiced concern that the new constitution would lead to nationwide instability and uncertainty, which would inflict a lot of damage on the economy. It is expected that this instability could stem from US pressure, as Washington has a long history of interfering in Latin American domestic issues, especially in Chile. This could also be linked to unprecedented conservatism among the Chilean public brought up under a conservative government after the US quashed any attempt at progressivism.