Chile to start drafting new constitution next month | Politics News

President Pinera said the assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution to replace the Pinochet-era charter will begin its work on July 4.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has said the assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution will hold its first session on July 4, as the South American country prepares to replace its current conservative charter from the dictatorship era.

The rewrite of the constitution is the result of a broad political consensus after the widespread social protests that erupted in late 2019 over inequalities.

“This convention undoubtedly represents an excellent opportunity to achieve a new constitution which will be recognized and respected by all Chileans in a framework of unity and stability towards the future of our democracy,” Pinera said on Sunday.

Over the course of nine months, the 155-member editorial body will need to balance a popular clamor for deep social change with the need to maintain a robust economy as it rewrites the old constitution, which dates from the reign of Augusto Pinochet.

Their terms could be extended for another three months, and the body will need a two-thirds majority to approve the bill, which will go to a national referendum next year, in which voting will be compulsory.

Chile saw many protests against inequalities in 2019 [File: Claudio Reyes/AFP]

Chile’s current constitution dates from 1980, enacted at the height of Pinochet’s reign from 1973 to 1990, and limits the role of the state while strengthening private enterprise.

He is blamed by many for the deep-rooted rift between rich and poor, but praised by others, mainly on the right, for the country’s many decades of economic growth.

In choosing the body responsible for drafting the new charter, voters in May turned their backs on traditional political parties and flocked to independent candidates with no party affiliation but mainly left-wing or socialist ideas.

Many independent candidates – an assortment of teachers, writers, journalists, lawyers and activists – were involved in or inspired by the 2019 uprisings and campaigned with promises of social change.

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