Chile’s New Constitution- Highlights

Chileans are set to vote on a new constitution, that seeks to bring the most sweeping changes in country since the end of dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet military. Proposed changes focus on social rights, gender parity and environment. It represents a huge shift from 1980 constitution, which was written during Pinochet’s prime.

  • Current constitution of Chile focuses on private rights and free market principles.
  • Proposed constitution or new text has been written by a 154-member body elected via a popular vote.
  • This will be the first time in history of country, that a constitution was drafted democratically.
  • Process for the new constitution was started in the aftermath of violent protests against inequality that surfaced in Chile in 2019.

Proposed changes in the constitution of Chile include;

  • The president remains head of the government. However, he would share the power to submit laws involving public spending with legislators. Currently, this power exclusively lies with the president.
  • The president could be re-elected consecutively once. Currently, he can be re-elected non-consecutively.
  • Congress would become an asymmetric body, which currently is a bicameral body with equal power.
  • Direct democracy mechanisms such as popular law initiatives and citizen consultations would be followed in routine.
  • It would provide wider social rights, including housing, health, social security, access to food and work.
  • It dedicates an entire chapter to environment, noting that “nature has rights” and animals are “subjects of special protection.”
  • Under proposed constitution, fight against climate change would be a state duty, because it would protect biodiversity, natural spaces and native species.
  • Water has been classified as a “non-appropriable”, as opposed to current constitution.

Apart from this, new constitution also provides for state to take steps to eradicate and punish gender violence. State bodies and public companies have been mandated to have gender parity. State has also been mandated to respect, protect, promote, and guarantee the self-determination, participation of indigenous groups, and collective & individual rights.

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