Voting begins in the referendum on Chile’s new constitution

This Sunday at 8.00 a.m. (14.00 in peninsular Spain) has begun the vote on the draft Constitution drawn up by the Constitutional Convention after almost a year of work. The polls will close ten hours later, with the possibility of extending the hours if there are queues of voters.

More than 15 million Chileans are called to participate in this process in which voting is mandatory, including Chileans living abroad.

The Chilean Electoral Service (Servel) has also organized the day so that expatriate citizens can participate. Spain is the second country with the most potential voters –more than 11,600–, only behind the United States. The voting process has already begun in cities such as Vienna, Dublin, London, Amsterdam and Stockholm.

The Servel establishes that no polling stations will be able to close after midnight in Chile and plans to start publishing the results this Sunday, as they become available after the closing of the voting centers.

Voters will answer this question: “Do you approve the text of New Constitution proposed by the Constitutional Convention?”.

According to the proposed text, the State of Chile comes to be considered as “plurinational”, the right of indigenous populations to have a say in matters that affect them is contemplated, and rights are put in writing on abortion–without expressly naming it–or on housing.

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The reforms also extend to some of the main institutions, with a structural change in the judicial system and the disappearance of the Senate, reconverted into a House of Representatives in the event of the triumph of the ‘apruebo’.

Boric himself has campaigned for the approval of the new draft, about which he has “a good opinion”, although he assumes that “there are always things that can be improved”, as he himself acknowledged this week in an interview published by the US magazine ‘Time’.

The president has recognized throughout the drafting process the apparent disaffection of the citizenry already reflected in the polls, which has ended up translating into a ‘rejection’ advantage. The polls give this option an advantage of up to ten points, although no poll has been published since August 20.

Numerous public faces have joined the campaign in favor of change, such as former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. The former president Sebastián Piñera, on the other hand, remains silent, although his entourage has told local media that he is leaning towards a ‘no’ vote.

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If the ‘I approve’ vote wins, it will mean the immediate repeal of the Constitution drafted in 1980, regardless of the fact that the new Magna Carta may be open to changes. The Government has already advanced that it will seek a reform to propose, for example, that the President of Chile cannot run for reelection.

The victory of the ‘rejection’, on the other hand, leaves everything as it is. However, Boric has ruled out that it means going back to square one and opts, instead, for returning to the plebiscite of 2020, since he considers that the mandate of then “is still in force”.

“If eventually the rejection were to win, which is legitimate, it is necessary to continue with that mandate of the people,” he told ‘Time’, which would go through putting the call for a new Constituent Convention back on track. “It is not a whim”, he added.

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