Under pressure, the government has given the go-ahead for the drafting of a new constitution, one of the main demands of the social movement that has lasted for nearly a month.
It is a major concession on the part of the Chilean government, to try to appease the protest movement. "I think the debate around a new constitution is legitimate. And we will approach it »Chilean Minister of the Interior Gonzalo Blumel told reporters on Sunday evening, 10 November. Turning the page of this text, adopted in 1980 – in the midst of a dictatorship – is one of the main demands of the social movement that has set Chile on fire since mid-October.
"This is the first time since the return to democracy (in 1990, after seventeen years of military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet) that the right opens to the idea of changing the Constitution "says Claudio Fuentes, professor of political science at Diego Portales University. The creators of the Constitution, including the ideologue of the dictatorship of Pinochet, Jaime Guzman (murdered in 1991), have made sure to shield against any attempt to change. The text demands that a reform of the Constitution be approved by two thirds of the Congress, "Which makes even when Michelle Bachelet (socialist president between 2006 and 2010, then 2014 and 2018) had a majority in Parliament, it could not advance some reform projects "says Fuentes.
"At this point, he is only probing the ground to see if he can reach a political agreement," Claudio Fuentes, professor
Five days before the end of her second term, Michelle Bachelet had introduced a bill to adopt a new Constitution, including providing everyone with access to health and education. The project was rejected by Sebastian Piñera when he took office in March 2018.
A year and a half later, "The announcement made by the Piñera government is ambiguous, says Fuentes, at this point, he is only probing the ground to see if he can reach a political agreement ". The mechanism envisaged by the Government could be, according to the Minister of the Interior, that of a "Constituent Congress", allowing the senators and deputies currently in place to draft a new text that would then be submitted for Chilean approval by referendum.
An option far removed from the more participatory approach that protesters have been demanding for weeks: the formation of a Constituent Assembly composed of citizens charged with drafting a new Constitution. "Congress representatives and their privileges have been heavily criticized during this crisis"explains Fuentes.