Chile may have just saved itself from becoming another Venezuela

The rejection of an extremist constitution

Chilean voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed constitution, with more than 61 % voting against. This outdid most polls, which predicted rejection, but not this high a percentage. It’s a defeat for Chile’s Far Left president and the defeat of the most Leftist institution the world had ever seen. The vote wasn’t even close in any way. Accusations of fraud by the Right are impossible and don’t seem to be made.

After voters overwhelmingly supported referenda for a new constitution and a constitutional convention directly chosen by the people in 2020, this is an extreme reversal. The Chilean constitution from 1980 will remain in force for the foreseeable future. Yes, that constitution implemented by Pinochet, that solidified the free market reforms that made Chile the richest country in Latin America. I know not everybody benefited from it equally, there was strong inequality, but the equal misery of Venezuela and the problems of Argentina were avoided. Chile also didn’t have to deal with Brazilian levels of crime, till recently anyways.

20 years ago, Pinochet himself still enjoyed the sympathy of more than 40 % of the population. Ironically Chileans seem to have become used to relative stability and to have wanted more. Understandable, but Latin American Socialism or radical ecology, really aren’t the antidotes to the shortcomings of neo-Liberalism many seem to think they are.

The irony seems to be that right-wing voters failed to turn up for the election for the constitutional convention. As a result, it was very left-leaning. But it was so lopsided that the Left fell victim to its own success, drafting a document too radical for the majority population.

Compulsory voting being specifically applied for this referendum, meant that the passionate Left would not turn out disproportionately.

Ironically, the election of the Leftist president, who supported the constitution, likely did it a lot of harm, since he faced a Biden level of backlash. The Left in Chile had an enormous chance to shape the country for the following decades and overplayed its hand completely.

It truly was an extreme document. It would have stripped unborn children of the right to life, which the current constitution specifically protects, and instead introduced a right to abortion. Something which seems incompatible with Chilean jurisprudence and its commitment to the American convention of the rights of the child which protects life from conception. It would have even contained a right to euthanasia and a right to sex education. A right that the state would likely have to force on kids and their parents whether they liked it or not. Sexual freedom, except for the freedom to not be sexualized as a child.

Animals were ironically to receive greater rights than the unborn. Traditional freedoms with regards to education and religion would have been limited. The senate would have been abolished, weakening check and balances. A new constitutional court would have caused further disruption. A radical requirement for full gender parity in all leading governmental bodies.

Radical ecology was supported in the document along with a parallel justice system for the native people.

Now the strong rejection will have strengthened the Conservative opposition, which has a 1/3+ block in the senate.

Chile’s current constitution also provides them the ability to veto 4 appointments to the 10-member constitutional court as well. Since 2 are chosen directly by a 2/3 supermajority in the senate and 2 have to be confirmed by such a supermajority in the senate after nomination by a similar supermajority in the lower house. 3 are chosen through secret ballot by the supreme court and 3 by the president.

Truly a constitutional court that has super-majoritarian representation and influence from all 3 branches of government. Giralt would probably love it if the judges’ terms weren’t merely 9 years.

Hopefully the opposition will successfully preserve the current constitution while agreeing to amendments that make support for the poor and others in need easier to achieve.

It seems like the radical and violent protests of 2019 will not be rewarded after all. Extremism has destroyed itself. For now.

John Logan

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