Chile will hold historic elections on May 15 and 16. In addition to electing mayors, council members and regional governors, the Chilean people will choose the 155 members of the entity that will be charged with drafting a new Constitution. The paragraphs that follow present key points for understanding this process.
The Constitutional Convention will have 155 members elected by popular vote based on the same districts used to elect members of Congress. The entity will have an equal number of men and women, which is unprecedented anywhere in the world. In addition, 17 of the 155 seats will be reserved for representatives of indigenous peoples.
The Convention will write and approve a proposed text for the new Constitution during a period of up to nine months from its induction. This period may be extended, on a onetime basis, by three months. In mid-2022, a second referendum will be held to approve or reject the new Constitution.
The exclusive purpose of the Convention is to draft and approve a new Constitution. As such, it may not intervene in or play any other role that corresponds to other agencies or officials. Furthermore, the drafting of the new Magna Carta must reflect the nature of the Republic of Chile, its democratic system, final and enforced judicial decisions and current international treaties ratified by Chile.
The articles contained in the new Magna Carta must have a two-thirds quorum of the entity’s members. The goal is to achieve a high level of consensus regarding the constitutional text.
The Convention must submit its proposed constitutional text to the President of the Republic of Chile, who will call for a new referendum to be held sixty days after notice is issued. Voting in this referendum will be mandatory, and the public must approve or reject the new Magna Carta. If it is approved, the new Constitution will be enacted. If it is rejected, the current Constitution will stand.
On October 25, 2020, 78.27% of those who voted in the referendum approved the decision to begin a process of drafting a new Constitution. This historic referendum was agreed to by most of Chile’s political entities, both within the government and among the opposition, in an effort to provide an institutional response to the social crisis that began in Chile in late 2019.
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