Chileans poured into the country’s main seats Sunday night after voters gave a ringing endorsement to a plan to tear down the country’s Pinochet-era constitution in favor of a new charter drafted by citizens.
In Santiago’s Plaza Italia, which focused on the massive and often violent social protests last year that sparked demand for a new magna carta, fireworks rose over a crowd of tens of thousands of cheering people singing together as the word “rebirth” was beamed. on a tower above.
With more than three-quarters of the votes counted, 78.12% of voters had chosen a new charter. Many have expressed hope that a new text will temper an unabashed capitalist ethic with guarantees of more equal rights to health care, pensions and education.
“This triumph belongs to the people, it is thanks to everyone’s efforts that we are in this moment of celebration,” Daniel, 37, told Reuters in Santiago’s Plaza Nunoa. “What makes me happiest is the participation of the young people, the young people want to make changes.”
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that if the country had been divided by the protests and the debate over whether to approve or reject plans for a new charter, they should from now on unite behind a new text that provided “a home for all”. .
The center-right leader, whose popularity ratings fell to record lengths during the unrest and has been in difficulty, spoke to those who wanted to keep the current constitution credited with making Chile one of Latin America’s economic success stories.
Any new draft must incorporate “the legacy of past generations, the will of the present generation and the hope of the next generation,” he said.
He nodded in fear that the high expectations set in a new charter could not be met, saying: “This referendum is not the end, it is the start of a path we must take towards a new constitution.”
As voices were spoken on live television around the country, spontaneous parties erupted on street corners and in squares around the country. Drivers tapped car horns, some as party voices danced on their roofs, and others knocked pots and pans. The flag for the country’s native Mapuche people, who will seek greater recognition in the new charter, was ubiquitous.
Four-fifths of voters said they wanted the new charter drafted by a specially elected body of citizens – consisting of half women and half men – over a mixed convention of lawmakers and citizens highlighting general mistrust in Chile’s political class.
Members of a 155-seat constitutional convention will be voted on by April 2021 and have up to one year to adopt a draft text with proposals approved by a two-thirds majority.
Issues likely to be at the forefront include the recognition of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche population, collective bargaining powers, water and land rights, and privatized health care, education, and pension systems.
Chileans then vote again on whether to accept the text or wish to return to the previous constitution.
The National Mining Society (Sonami), which groups companies in the sector into the world’s largest copper producer, said they hoped for “broad agreement on the principles and norms” that determine the sector’s coexistence with Chilean citizens and that the regulatory security that has allowed the sector to flourish would continue.