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Chile Grapples with Voter Fatigue as Key Deadlines Approach for New Constitution

As crucial deadlines loom for Chile’s new constitution, the nation faces the challenge of voter fatigue and dwindling enthusiasm for the process. The Constitutional Council of Chile remains confident in meeting the October deadline for their draft but winning over the public’s support presents a considerable hurdle, according to the institution’s president, Beatriz Hevia.

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Council committees are set to analyze proposed modifications to the preliminary draft this week, with their votes expected to conclude by early September. Subsequently, the process will move to the council’s floor, culminating in a final recommendation the following month.

Hevia, a trained lawyer, oversees the institution driving Chile’s second attempt to rewrite its constitution within two years. The prior attempt was rejected by voters in 2022 due to concerns about radicalism. The current effort is favored by right-wing factions dominating the council. However, a new issue has emerged—voter apathy stemming from a prolonged process spanning over two years and involving three national votes.

A recent Cadem poll indicated that only 26% of respondents plan to support the proposed constitution. Moreover, 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.

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Credits: DepositPhotos

For Hevia, the frustration of voters can be attributed to the failure of the prior attempt at constitution reform. She acknowledges that people’s hope was placed in the previous process, which ultimately proved ineffective. As a result, skepticism and reluctance to invest in a new process have emerged.

The push to replace the current constitution, dating back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, was ignited by social unrest in 2019. However, the nation’s shift toward the right over the past year 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, which initially opposed changing the constitution, emphasizes that the council is open to diverse opinions. The council’s aspiration is to craft a constitution that encompasses the interests of all Chileans, demonstrating a commitment to unity above personal agendas.

The council faces a tight timeline, with modifications to the draft due 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 would become law.

Hevia believes that by collectively recognizing the necessity to move past 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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