NewsLatin AmericaABC of Chile's new attempt to change its Magna Carta

    ABC of Chile’s new attempt to change its Magna Carta

    A new chapter in the process of elaboration of a new Magna Carta in Chile. This Wednesday, June 7, the 51 members of the Constitutional Council took office in Santiago. The body’s mission is to prepare the final text based on a preliminary draft drawn up by the Expert Commission. How is the Council formed? What are the keys to the process? What differences does it have from previous attempts?

    This is one of the crucial steps in Chile’s second attempt, under Gabriel Boric, to change the Constitution. This Wednesday, June 7, the Constitutional Council, in charge of giving the final form to the text, took office in Santiago.

    The expectations are high. Over the weekend, the president assured that this could be the last initiative of this order during his term. Thus, Boric seems to give an ultimatum and show the importance of this stage of a highly sensitive and divisive process. One with which he seeks to leave behind the episode of September last year, when 62% of citizens rejected a refounding constitutional proposal in a plebiscite.

    “This Council is installed today because we have achieved, traveling a long way, that the agreements prevail and, in addition, it demonstrates our strength as a country because we are capable of putting the common good above individual interests,” Boric said during the ceremony.

    “Citizens expect a collaborative process, where the different parties are able to give in when necessary and find common ground in search of the best for Chile,” added the president.

    Boric was optimistic and stressed that closing this process would do the country good. This time, the process is far from the one that ended with a result contrary to the aspirations of the president last year. Chile has sought to distance itself from the failed attempt by setting up a committee of experts and the Constitutional Council has a prevalence of political forces that is very different from the previous Constitutional Convention.

    These are the key points to take into consideration of the new process in Chile:

    What is the Constitutional Council?

    The Constitutional Council has one main objective: to discuss and approve the norms presented by the Expert Commission. It is one of the three organisms with a preponderant role in the constituent process.

    The council has a period of five months to shape a new proposal. During this period, it has the capacity to, as shows Constitutional magnifying glass“approve, approve with modifications or incorporate new norms to the draft of the new Constitution”.

    For this type of change, it is necessary for the body to reach a quorum of three fifths of its members.

    Representatives of the Expert Commission deliver the draft to the Constitutional Council. © Elvis Gonzalez / EFE

    In addition, it will have four commissions: Political System, Constitutional Reform and Form of State; Judicial Function and Autonomous Bodies; Principles, Civil and Political Rights; and Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.

    According to Chilean National Television, “the commissions must discuss and vote on all the articles, amendments and proposals for new regulations that have been presented. Subsequently, they must make a report that will be issued to the plenary session of the Constitutional Council.

    What is the composition of the new organism?

    Its composition is equal. There are 25 men and 25 women who make up the Constitutional Council. The members of the body were elected by popular vote on May 7.

    The results of these elections gave the extreme right as the majority force in the Council, it was left with about 35% of the votes and thus with 23 of the seats. The Republican Party, led by the former presidential candidate who lost the elections against Boric, Jose Antonio Kast; thus has the power to veto constitutional norms.

    The performance in the elections was unfavorable for the ruling party. Boric’s coalition of Unity for Chile he obtained 28% of the votes and only 16 directors.

    For its part, the traditional right represented in Chile Vamos was left with 11 seats. One of the main doubts that arose from the elections is whether it will unite with the representatives of the ultra-right and thus allow laws to be passed without having to negotiate with leftist forces.

    Seat number 51 is intended for indigenous peoples, in this case it will be occupied by a Mapuche activist.

    Commission of experts: the draft and its future work

    One of the big differences with the previous project was the creation of an Expert Commission. The country’s Congress elected 24 members —also on a parity basis—, half were appointed by the Chamber of Deputies and the other half by the Senate.

    It was a group that sought to encompass the different political forces in the country and its main task was the drafting of a constitutional draft. The Commission concluded its work last week.

    The result was a 134-page text, 14 chapters plus some ‘Transitory Provisions’ and was titled as ‘Preliminary draft of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile’.

    The document contemplated 12 “constitutional borders”, limits that its members had to follow and not exceed.

    Some of the fundamental changes with respect to the previous Magna Carta are:

    • The consecration of Chile as a social and democratic State of law, before it was conceived as a subsidiary State.
    • The limitation of the re-election of the president, despite maintaining the presidential figure.
    • The establishment of a threshold of 5% of the votes validly cast to access the elections of the Chamber of Deputies and Deputies. as it aims ‘The country’“it is a change that has been promoted given the political fragmentation that Chile has, where there are 21 forces in Parliament.”
    • The recognition of indigenous peoples as part of the Chilean nation
    • A chapter dedicated to the protection and conservation of the environment

    The role of the Expert Commission has not ended. Now he will be able to attend the plenary sessions of the Council and will have the right to speak, but not to vote. In addition, by having a final proposal for a Magna Carta, the designated experts will be able to propose improvements for the wording of the text.

    Second try

    The decisive date will be given on December 17. That day the Chileans are summoned, once again, to vote in a plebiscite where they will decide whether or not to accept the new constitutional text.

    File-A demonstrator takes part in a protest against the government of President Sebastian Pinera, in Santiago, Chile, on December 13, 2019. The crisis in Chile erupted in mid-October due to increases in subway fares, but it quickly became in the most severe outbreak of social unrest since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship three decades ago.
    File-A demonstrator takes part in a protest against the government of President Sebastian Pinera, in Santiago, Chile, on December 13, 2019. The crisis in Chile erupted in mid-October due to increases in subway fares, but it quickly became in the most severe outbreak of social unrest since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship three decades ago. © Martin Bernetti / AFP

    A moment highly anticipated by a broad sector of Chilean society, since, if accepted, the Constitution promulgated during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1980 would be left in the past.

    But there are still many questions. The Constitutional Council is dominated by the force that even defended the previous Magna Carta. Thus, it remains to be seen if the proposal convinces, this time, the public. Especially to that sector that took to the streets en masse in 2019 and that vociferously demanded an urgent constitutional change.

    With EFE and local media

    Source: France 24

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    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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