Questions and controversies: the Chilean Constitutional Convention suffers a sharp decline in credibility

SANTIAGO, Chile. – It was intense weeks for the Constitutional Convention, the body created to draft a new Constitution in Chile. This has already been confirmed by its board of directors The plebiscite with compulsory voting will be held on 4 September, in which the proposed text that seeks to bury the Magna Carta that emerged under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet will be approved or rejected.

In the middle of the announcement, the entity experiences a noticeable decrease in its membership and receives questions after strong controversy and discussions over some articles. This week, three polls from different electoral companies confirmed unfavorable projections and signaled a technical draw and also a triumph with a slight margin of rejection of the new fundamental law.

The Plaza Pública Cadem poll revealed that the refusal option recorded an increase of ten percentage points and reached 46%with respect to the approval you registered a drop of six points and reached 40%. Trust in the Constitutional Convention was also affected a sharp drop of seven points and reached 44%, while distrust in the body increased to 55%.

Protests in Santiago against the constituent
Protests in Santiago against the constituentMARTIN BERNETTI – AFP

Poller Feedback Research also reported the trend and established support for rejection at 44 percent versus 41 percent for approval. The Data Influenza survey, meanwhile, has highlighted a technical link on the exit plebiscite for a new Constitution: 39% of respondents said they want to approve the document, while 38% are inclined to reject it.

This dynamic means a total reversal of the trend in the disposition of citizens towards the institution, especially considering that in the plebiscite of 2020, when the constitutional process beganwith almost 80% of the votes the possibility of approving a new fundamental letter prevailed.

Protests in Santiago against the constituent
Protests in Santiago against the constituentMARTIN BERNETTI – AFP

“That 80-20 vote is too nuanced. Within that majority percentage there were many types of Approval. From a very moderate approval, that is from the right, which tried to re-legitimize another Constitution but which was not very different from what it was; to an almost anarchic and dissolutive approval of the state, such as that proposed by the conventional María Rivera. So you need that wide arc to win a plebiscite, but not to write a new Constitution, ”Axel Callín, a sociologist and political analyst, told LA NACION.

Alerted by this situation to the downside of the Convention, the president himself Gabriele Boric He expressed his concern when there are still just under three months to July 5, the date on which the work of the collegial body will end and the definitive text will have to be delivered to be voted on in the exit plebiscite.

President Gabriel Boric, during his recent visit to Argentina
President Gabriel Boric, during his recent visit to ArgentinaJUAN MABROMATA – AFP

“Of course I’m worried”, said the president, one of the main precursors of the initiative that was created to institutionally channel the political crisis generated by the social outbreak of October 2019. “My appeal is to seek the greatest possible transversality and breadth to build a Constitution that is a meeting point. This implies that space must be given to reflection, so that the agreements are broader than they have been up to now ”, added the head of state during his state visit to Argentina.

By the Convention itself, however, some of the 155 members of the assembly and representatives of the left (which has the majority in the body) have played down the ballot box and aimed their darts mainly the mediadespite criticism of the body’s image of disorder and lack of political coordination. “There is a systematic offensive by right-wing groups, by big businessmen, who are trying to somehow put the emphasis on the Convention which is not the emphasis it has,” said Marcos Barraza, constituent of the Communist Party.

On the other hand, Pedro Muñoz of the Colectivo Socialista, also of the left, acknowledged the unease about the results. “There is no worse blind than those who do not want to see, the Convention is going through a difficult time”.

Among the main causes that originated the decline in support for citizens is a communication deficit, the paucity of broader agreements, the lack of leadership and the various controversies that have led to conventional ones, such as the deception of the People’s List representative, Rodrigo Rojas Vade, who falsified his medical information and lied about his diagnosis of cancer. Other proposals like the one you searched for eliminate the three branches of government -and that it was rejected- or that of the nationalization of mining companiesthey generated noise, as did the regulations relating to the political system, such as that of pluri-nationality and autonomous territories.

Protests in Santiago against the constituent
Protests in Santiago against the constituentMARTIN BERNETTI – AFP

“The election of the constituents has allowed the arrival of more than 105 independents, many of whom are representatives of territories and with completely unique, specific or niche agendas, especially on environmental issues, indigenous populations, sexual minorities. Topics that have more to do with small groups than large groups”Said Axel Callis, director of TuInfluyes.Com.

“It’s a campaign that has learned from what Brexit was or the event in Colombia and has managed to establish an interesting strategy: generate a collection of negatives, some of which are true, false or exacerbations and are building a negativity around various aspects of the Convention. The approval does not appear because those aspects such as social rights are not yet registered and the same table confessed that there was an error leaving them for lastCallis added.

Precisely, these days these issues have been referred to housing, health and retirement they are the ones that are being debated in the Fundamental Rights Committee and will soon be voted on in plenary, and whose debate could improve the image of the Convention.

“The increase in rejection is directly related to the communicative management of the Convention and it is unlikely that the constitutional text alone will be able to reverse this increase. This has two consequences. On the one hand, the to political cost for the Boric government, since it supported the constitutional process from its inception, even before becoming president. And on the other hand, the legitimacy that citizens give to the text, even if it passes a little. With the future formation of Chilean political institutions, it is likely that it will undergo changes later on, “said Mario Herrera, an academic at the Center for Political Analysis at the University of Talca.

However, the body continues to work against the clock and the thematic committees continue to present their proposals for the Plenary of the Convention to submit to a vote and then incorporate them into the final text. “The campaign has not yet started because for this reason the new Constitution must be written. Nobody in Chile has experience in this regard, but we know that in general people will not read a new Constitution, but will vote for an idea that is made of it ”, concluded analyst Axel Callís.

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