Conservatives prevail in the key vote for Chile’s new constitution

A far-right party is leading in the vote count after Chileans cast their ballots on Sunday for a 50-member committee to draft a new constitution.

SANTIAGO, Chile — A far-right party led the vote count Sunday night after Chileans cast their votes for a 50-member commission to craft a new constitution after voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed pact last year that was considered one of the best in the world. the most progressive.

It was a significant defeat for Chile’s center-left president, Gabriel Boric, with the vote widely seen as a referendum on his government, which currently has an approval rating of around 30%.

With 91% of polling stations reporting, the Republican Party, led by far-right Jose Antonio Cast, who lost a presidential runoff to Borek in 2021, leads with 35% of the vote. The Republican Party has long opposed changing the constitution imposed by the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

A coalition of left-wing parties aligned with Borek, Unity for Chile finished second with 28% of the vote. The centre-right Safe Chile coalition was third with 21%. Blank or empty votes accounted for 21% of the total.

Preliminary calculations indicated that the Republican Party ended up with about 22 deputies in the Constitutional Council, compared to 17 for unity for Chile and 11 for safe Chile.

If the two centre-right groups, Republicans and Safe Chile, unite, it could leave Borik’s allies very little room to influence the final text. The preliminary count indicates that left-leaning coalitions will not reach the 21 seats needed to veto or force consensus on some issues.

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Sunday’s vote marks a major step in efforts to come up with a new constitution proposal after 62% of voters rejected the previous proposed charter in September. It was the first in the world to be scripted by a conference evenly divided between male and female delegates.

Once installed, the 50 members of the commission will not start from scratch, but will work from an initial document drafted by 24 congressional-approved experts. The commission’s proposal is due to be put forward before a referendum in December.

Congress managed to get the protests under control by calling a referendum on a new constitution, which 80% of voters agreed was needed.

Much of that enthusiasm seems to have faded. Ahead of Sunday’s vote, polls said there was little interest in the constitutional process.

“I decided to vote because it is mandatory,” said Luis Rodriguez, the 70-year-old retiree who cast his ballot on Sunday. “I don’t care about the outcome.”

Another retiree, David Pino, 65, said he also voted out of obligation. Fines for those who fail to vote can be as high as $230.

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