Chile, at the gates of a historic plebiscite

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Chile will decide on Sunday, October 25, how to travel an unprecedented constituent path that, if successful, will mean the burial of what until now seemed a fatal plan: the constitution of the dictator Pinochet, which, by imposing supra-majority parliamentary quorums for any significant reform, armored the ultra-neoliberal regime.

Some 15 million citizens will be able to vote voluntarily “approve” or “reject” and also on the body to write it: a joint “constitutional convention” of 155 elected members, or a “mixed” of 172 members, half elected and half parliamentarians in office. self-appointed. The “Convention members” will be elected in April and will have eight months extendable for three to produce the Magna Carta, which will be submitted to a plebiscite ratifying a mandatory vote.

Everything indicates that they will easily win the “approval” and the “constitutional convention”: a survey by projects that 81.4 percent will vote “approve” and that 76 percent will opt for “constitutional convention.” But the unknown is participation, both because of the fear of contagion from Covid-19 and because abstention in Chile is high, higher than 50 percent. The projection of the “likely voter” established that 64 percent will vote, even with the outbreak of the pandemic.

“There is concern about it, there has been a lot of information about the conditions to vote that is the great concern of citizens and the government is expectant, they have been informing and encouraging people to participate and I think they are preventing that the approval will win, that there will be more than 50 percent participation. For the government and the right, the issue will be how they climb the constitutional tree, for them, it has always been uncomfortable to resist the change to the constitution “, commented Claudio Fuentes, the doctor in political science and professor at Universidad Diego Portals.

Violence has also been a recurring theme in recent weeks, because the right-wing in favor of the “rejection” has been careful to associate it with the “approval” and with the convulsion and poor governance that has characterized Chile since October 2019, when the protests in rejection of the neoliberal model and in demand for social guarantees, which led to the demand for a new constitution.

“It will have a low impact,” says Claudio Fuentes, “the decisions in the public have been made for a long time and all the polls show a lot of consistency and no alteration of perceptions, so I doubt that it is shocking to vary the vote because there was a very little undecided vote “.

Axel Callís, sociologist and director of the polling station, recalls that in the 1988 plebiscite (when it was decided on the continuation of the Pinochet dictatorship) 90 percent of those over 18 years of age voted and that if that were leads to current numbers, 13 million people should vote. “But as we have electoral inertia based on voluntary voting, I think that participation will be around 8 million 200 thousand, from there upwards, up to about 8 million 700 thousand, which is already a high participation,” he says.

“My projection is that this will be 80 to 20, but experience says that the plebiscites hide a vote, that is, here there could be a hidden rejection that would leave things around 70 to 30”, he predicts.

As for the country’s climate, he says that if few (less than 6 million 500 thousand) vote, “there will be a questioning from the right about legitimacy, as well as from the world that does not participate in the street”, which implies that ” the beginning of the constitutional path will not have solid citizen support “. On the contrary, “if many people vote, the climate will change favorably because the extremes will be diluted with a massive vote of more than 8 or 9 million votes.”

It also projects that youth participation could increase substantially. Women between the ages of 18 and 34 have been voting around 4th percent and men 33 percent. What is perceived is that it would reach 50 percent, offsetting the expected decline in those over 65 who vote at around 63 percent.

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