How the ultra-egalitarian constitution divided Chile

How a constitution as a social contract covering all segments should not be tested and approved in Chile.

In the referendum on Sunday, the Chilean people mostly rejected the draft constitution, which looks like a Left Utopia, despite all the rights and freedoms it contains, its pluralist and egalitarian character, and its publicist structure that stands out from the market economy and takes care of the poor. The goal of high quality in education and health was also rejected. The polarization that already existed between conservatives and moderns, left and nationalist neighborhoods deepened with the univocal constitutional initiative, and the nation decided to continue with the 42-year-old coup constitution. Bloody Pinochet They preferred the constitution, in which the dictatorship strengthened its power, but which underwent democratic changes over time, over the contract with immense rights.

Even the centre-lefttoo radical and unfunded” He was against the bill. Even some human rights defenders “The Chilean people have shown the democratic maturity to turn down a tempting and seductive populist offer.” expressed his praise.

The maxim that the best constitution is a short constitution was also justified. Because the text, which the Chilean people did not approve, consisted of exactly 178 pages and 388 paragraphs. The text, prepared by a panel of left-weighted delegates, was too long and was badly prone to tweezing. When we look at it from our own polarization axis, we can best internalize how the sensitive content statuses that tweeze touch the fault lines.

of supporters “The most inclusive constitutional initiative in the world” What rights did the social contract include that do not exist today, what was too much for 62 percent of the Chilean people, what did 38 percent adopt:

  • Autonomy of ten indigenous communities, mainly Mapuche, identification of Chile as a “multinational” country.
  • Social gender equality.
  • Equal employment opportunities for men and women in the public and private sectors.
  • Human rights of LGBTI individuals.
  • Legal access to abortion.
  • Protection of animal and nature rights.
  • Government to take necessary measures to combat the climate crisis.


In fact, the intention in the new constitution initiative was to ensure unity in the country divided into camps. The social explosion experienced by the working class and the middle pole who rebelled against the high cost of living and low wages in 2019, the use of disproportionate violence by the security forces against the protest wave and the vandalism that followed the brute force, dragged the relatively prosperous country in the Latin geography into crisis, and the political institution tried to suppress the rebellion. made a new constitution. A year after the events, the majority of the people approved the proposal to write a new constitution.

As you can see, the calculations at home did not fit the market, and the division was fueled. In the team that started the first contacts for the writing of the constitution, he was a member of Congress at that time. Gabriel Boric There was also. The 36-year-old, who was a student leader in the 2011-2013 protests and was elected president last March boricto voters during the campaign period. “If Chile has been the cradle of neo-liberalism, it will be its grave” he was calling.

who took his own life during the military coup in 1973 Salvador AllendeAs the leftmost leader Chile has seen since boric he would march towards the goal of transforming the country on the basis of the new constitution. But his agenda was in trouble.

The most burning articles in the new constitution are undoubtedly the ones that radically change the national identity. “multinational country” definition and privileges granted to indigenous peoples. Instead of determining the rules of the game for civilized living together, the bill had divisive elements that met the demands of a small minority.

Indigenous communities, for example, could use their traditional legal practices to resolve disputes. The functioning of this mechanism would be determined by the parliament, and the judicial systems of the state and local would be integrated on an equal basis. However, the Supreme Court would have the power to amend decisions from domestic courts.

Such privileges, which could lead to judicial turmoil, were heavily criticized in terms of separatism. While the domestic judicial system would only deal with low-profile crimes such as animal theft, according to the coordinators of this chapter in the constitution, division has raised concerns. Conservatives were already angry and resentful because they were not given a role in writing the constitution, but even from the left “There cannot be 11 nationalities in Chile. There is only one Chile where everyone is given equal rights, no one can be given more rights.” objections rose.

Only former presidents Michelle Bachelet gave open support to the new constitution; Bachelet ex-president who is a member of the Socialist Party, such as Ricardo Lagos he stopped from backing out.

Historical injustices against the indigenous Mapuche people living in the south of the country “multinational” It was realized that it was not possible to compensate by method. Tensions have escalated in the region in recent years, and there have been murders and assassinations. A radical group among the Mapuche demanded recognition as a separate national identity. It was clear that the majority of the Chilean people would object to the solution of the Mapuche problem in this way.

The structure of the new constitution, which completely changed the economic model based mainly on raw material exports, was also the target of criticism; Reducing the country’s dependence on copper exports was not considered the right method. Although there is no fair distribution, raw material exports provide a significant foreign exchange income. According to economists, changing the raw material-based model in a way that would not hinder development had to be discussed.


The new constitution in Chile coincided with an unfortunate period of deepening economic and political ruptures; The quality of life of the majority of the people has deteriorated in recent years, unemployment and the cost of living have increased, and crime cases have exploded. The pandemic was not the only one responsible for this picture.

Now it is necessary to take action again to write a new constitution. The architects of the rejected bill are of the opinion that they have suffered a great defeat. There are differences of opinion among political commentators. According to some, the President of the State whose rating is gradually decreasing in opinion polls boric it no longer has the caliber to present a new constitution to the people. Constitution experts say that the new draft constitution can only be written by the parliament that will come to power with a new election.

President Boric

President Boric

The rejected constitution was also drafted by the 155-member advisory council, which came to power by popular vote. The number of male and female members was equalized and 17 seats were reserved for representatives of indigenous communities. Therefore, the voice of the nationalist conservative segment was not reflected.

But there are those who argue that the situation is not so dramatic. Because the constitutional assembly was democratically elected. The dissatisfaction of the people with the result is the defeat of the left, the right and Pinochet It’s not a victory for his supporters. Moreover boric he proved his age as a statesman (person) with his speech on the evening of defeat; He said that he wholeheartedly accepted the result of the referendum and received the message of the people. He called for dialogue with parliament and political parties for a new social contract that takes into account the voices of wider groups and unites the country.

boric‘s message to those on the side of the rejected constitution was also interesting; “You have to self-criticize. We must listen to the voice of the people…”

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