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Chile drafts a new Constitution

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    12th Jan, 2022

Context

The Chilean assembly has elected a new assembly for drafting a new constitution.

  • Old Chile’s constitution is widely unpopular and considered as a source of social inequality.

The new constitution is expected to bring in major changes for Chile; with activists expecting that it will bring new protections for bringing in social equality and Indigenous leaders expecting that it will help establish a new relationship between their communities and the state.  

Background

  • Chile, since its transition to democracy in 1990, has amended the Constitution to take out many of its anti-democratic features in the constitution which enshrined the practices of conservative free market philosophies.
  • This has allowed the private sector to grow and helped the economy expand.
  • But it also led to the concentration of wealth in a minuscule minority, which led to social inequality.
  • This lead to a mass protest in 2019 for reframing of the constitution
  • So, the conservative President, Sebastian Pinera, agreed to hold a referendum on rewriting the country’s Constitution.
  • Now, 78% of Chileans voted in favour of replacing the charter with a new document.
  • The Chilean assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution in the South American nation has now elected a new president Maria Elisa Quinteros.

Analysis

How did the demand rise?

    • The initial protests erupted over the issue of small rise in metro fares which soon turned into a mass protest leading to public agitation and demanding reforms such as 
      • An abolition of the private pension fund system 
      • Increase the investments in education, healthcare etc.
      • Strengthening of the rights of the indigenous communities.
    • This protest led to demand of reframing the constitution which led to plebiscite and majority voted for constitution reframing
  • This led to a constitution of 155 drafting members and now they have elected Maria Elisa Quinteros as the new president.
    • Half the delegates are women in the assembly
  • The 155-member Assembly to draft the new document will put the document for plebiscite in 2022.
  • Despite the political and procedural challenges, it offers a fresh opportunity for Chile to say goodbye to a dark era.

What will a new charter mean for Chile?

  • Through a democratic process, Chileans can bury the old document and introduce a modern democratic charter which can provide a better way for the development of their country.
  • It will also pave way for a more inclusive economic and social system that works well for all people for socio-economic development.
  • This will give them a new hope for development 

Assess the pros and cons of having a Constitution?

Pros

  • The Constitution is supreme
  • It avoids dictatorship by rulers
  • It reduces clash of functions of the arms of government
  • The Judiciary has more power in order to ensure constitutional supremacy
  • Constitution is majorly flexible, though there can be instances where even the written Constitution is rigid
  • Constitutions is properly framed and compiled in a step by step manner which idealize the goals of the country

Cons

  • It is difficult to amend, as it takes time.
  • It may not favor every part of the state
  • It may encourage frequent litigation, as people can easily know when their rights have been breached
  • Delay in government activities
  • Sometimes it does not allow for flexibility

Way forward

The constitution should be framed in such a way that it idealizes the goals of the Chileans and recognizes various rights of individuals which give a prompt space for the development of individuals, thus the country.

Though various political overreach could take Chile on the path to political radicalism. & lead to turn away business investment and shatter Chile’s reputation as business-friendly. Chile is now set for its biggest political change since the transition, the new constitution can pave the way to get rid of authoritarian regimes and socio-economic inequality.

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