The president of the constitutional council, Beatriz Hevia, of the Republican Party, together with the vice president of the body, Aldo Valle, of the left-wing blocCRISTOBALVENEGAS
Attempts to reach agreements within the Constitutional Council in Chile, the body in charge of writing a new Magna Carta, have come to a standstill. Since the amendments to the articles of the preliminary draft drafted by the Expert Commission began to be voted on last week, tensions between sectors of the right and left have been increasing.
The points of conflict were indications regarding the rodeo and the cueca becoming national sports and dance, added to the exemption of contributions (taxes) to the first home; that national assets for public use can be concessioned and the owner is given a property right over them; the inclusion of conscientious objection to institutions and the concession of hydrocarbons, among other amendments. They were presented by the far-right Republican Party and the traditional right gathered in Chile Vamos (Unión Demócrata Independiente, UDI; Renovación Nacional, RN; and Evópoli).
The left-wing councilors, gathered in the Unity for Chile bloc, have expressed their annoyance at the amendments that the right presented without prior consultation and that they consider to go beyond their limits to achieve a text where a large part of Chilean society can be represented. In this context, the opposition blocs opened up to give more time to find points of consensus before the new indications are voted on by the plenary session of the constituent body. But so far, all efforts have been fruitless.
Last week, four negotiating subcommittees were created to unblock critical points, but after long negotiations it was not possible. Given this, on Wednesday the pro-government councilors asked their peers on the right for a signal. Through a statement, they called to withdraw all the amendments that the side and side councilors have submitted to the constitutional draft.
“We encountered many regressive amendments, poorly drafted and with serious technical problems. These are a setback for our entire country. Denying the climate crisis, privatizing national assets for public use, environmental standards tailored to companies, are a defeat for the entire country. With the content that we are finding, we are very far from the promise of a unity pact,” the ruling party stated in their letter.
The request was not well received by the right-wing blocs. The president of the Republican Party, former deputy Arturo Squella, said through They indicated that they were not willing to withdraw the amendments already voted on.
With those cards on the table, negotiations once again reached a stalemate. On Wednesday afternoon, a last attempt was made: a negotiating group was created consisting of 10 members, five from the ruling party and five from Chile Vamos and the Republican Party. The conversations lasted about four hours and ended after two in the morning on Thursday, without success. There was no possibility of finding a middle ground between the left’s request to review the amendments already voted on and the right’s position, which reiterated that this should be debated in plenary. After the meeting, the atmosphere became even more strained with reproaches from both sides. While the Republican Party and Chile Vamos launched a joint statement, which was interpreted as a reinforcement of the alliance between the two, Unidad por Chile accused their counterpart of a lack of will.
“There has been an intransigence of the right-wing sector that the majority has to impose their visions, which for someone progressive are unacceptable,” the commissioner of the Socialist Party, Flavio Quezada, explains to EL PAÍS.
It was in this scenario of recriminations that voting was restarted yesterday in the respective commissions, where a new and controversial amendment was voted that prohibits the State from establishing an official truth or sanctioning the expression of ideas contrary to it. And today it is expected that the temperature will continue to rise with amendments related to what are considered critical points and that include issues related to health, education, social security, right to life and international treaties, in addition to the Judiciary, a section where, according to the local press, the Republican Party plans to present major surgery through its next indications.
Without new negotiation windows and with time running out, now everything indicates that it will be in plenary session of the Constitutional Council, whose debate will begin on September 12, where it will be defined how each of the articles of the new Charter proposal will be. Chilean fundamental. The two right-wing parties, in any case, have the advantage: 33 councilors compared to 17 for the ruling party. After that stage, the text returns to the Expert Commission, which wrote the draft, which can make observations that the plenary must then approve or reject. In the case of this last option, a mixed commission is formed between expert commissioners and constitutional advisors to agree on the final text.
The success of this second Chilean attempt to achieve a text that manages to bring together the majority of the inhabitants of the South American country will depend on the final result of this process, after the failed experience of the Constitutional Convention, which was rejected in the plebiscite of December 4. September 2022, with 62% of the votes.
A new rejection worries the country’s political and business leaders, who see the length of the constituent process as a source of uncertainty for new investments. In this context, the Chilean Institute of Rational Business Administration, Icare, a private entity that brings together company leaders to debate and work on country challenges, has called a meeting next Wednesday, September 13, which will feature the presence of former presidents Sebastián Piñera and Michelle Bachelet. The event, to which representatives from different political sectors are also invited, seeks to open a new space for negotiation to help unlock agreements within the body that is writing a new Constitution for Chile.
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