The main polls in Chile show a rejection of the new constitution, Gabriel Boric faces his first great challenge from the Government
Photo: TW-Gabriel Boric
LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio
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Leer en español: ¿Tiene Gabriel Boric un plan B si se rechaza la Constitución?
On September 4, more than 15 million Chileans will go to the polls. The reason is the plebiscite on the new Constitution. The enthusiasm generated by the announcement of a new Magna Carta has turned into uncertainty. What options does President Gabriel Boric have if the Chilean people vote NO?
The game of possibilities
The current Chilean Constitution dates from 1980 during the government of General Augusto Pinochet, and although the dictatorship ended, the change of the constitution was not possible, the presidents of the democratic era only managed to reform it, however it still does not adapt to the current needs of the Chileans. Former president Michelle Bachelet promoted a new constitution during her second term, but Sebastián Piñera did not give it continuity when he took power. The 2019 demonstrations accelerated the possibility of a new constitution that crystallized with the 2020 Constitutional Convention that drafted the new proposal. Now, Chile faces a historic decision, the possibilities have gone from a YES trend to a generalized NO, and there are few days left to reverse a trend that looks unfavorable.
According to the Electoral Citizen Pulse study of the company Activa, the possibilities are against the new constitution. According to their data, a few days before the referendum (September 4) 58.2% of voters would vote NO, compared to 46.5% who would vote YES, a fact that is repeated in most polls in Chile, a negative prognosis.
The controversies generated by the main proposals of the document have taken their toll, to which is added an intensely negative campaign by businessmen and politicians who have managed to convince the electorate that the new Constitution would be a setback, mainly among the older adult population of the country. What happened with Brexit in the United Kingdom could be repeated, where it was the elderly who defined the exit from the European Union, with low participation of young people. The difference in Chile is in the issues of feminism and diversity that are expected to encourage young people to go out and vote, against the common trend of abstentionism.
The "plan B" that Gabriel Boric would have
Boric came to power with the responsibility of carrying out the constitutional process initiated by his predecessor, the proposal for a new Constitution arrived on July 4 and the main issues immediately jumped to public opinion: feminism, parity, diversity, justice system and profound changes such as the elimination of the Senate and the birth of a Chamber of the Regions. For activists for the rights of women, the LGBT community and indigenous people, the proposal sent by the Constitutional Convention would take Chile into the 21st century with a text that would be one of the most advanced in the world on these issues, but at the same time It has notably scared the most conservative by giving them the tools to promote the campaign for the NO.
President Gabriel Boric has declared that if the fundamental law proposal is rejected, elections would be called for a new Constitutional Convention that would have the responsibility of creating a new proposal from scratch. For the right and part of the center-left, the option is the rejection of the new Constitution and a profound reform of the current Chilean Fundamental Charter. This would make it difficult to hold a new constitutional convention, leaving Boric to negotiate each major issue separately if the opposition option wins. The preceding would translate into a slow process and intense political friction in both chambers of Congress, where the ruling party faces a solid opposition that has enough power to block if agreements are not reached.
In summary, the three options are: "Approve to reform" which the president defends, a scenario in which he would have control since it would be difficult for the opposition to go against issues such as parity or the right to water. The second option "Reject to reform" to which the opposition aspires, is a scenario in which they would have control, they have promised to make changes in relevant issues such as water or the Judicial System, but President Boric is skeptical. This second option would lead the president to the third option, which is a new constituent. Or start the process from the beginning.
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The shadow of defeat that surrounds Boric
In any of the three scenarios, Gabriel Boric would face intense negotiations with the opposition, although "Approve to reform" would be the most desirable for him, since it would be a victory that would allow him to fulfill several of his campaign promises. that showed him as a progressive candidate. Instead, the panorama points to a defeat for the Chilean president, the country will continue waiting to see its main demands in the laws. Boric's task will be to try to bring them to the constitution, whatever it may be, the political effort to achieve it will undoubtedly slow down the pace of his government and could wear down his image and that of the Chilean left, something that for the opposition right would be pure oxygen. , in the middle of the region trending to the left. Defeating Boric in the plebiscite could then imply a lock and a brake on his government that would turn swampy.