Chile to begin drafting new constitution next month | Political News

President Pinera says the assembly drafting a new constitution to replace the Pinochet-era charter will begin work on July 4.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has said the assembly to draft a new constitution will hold its first session on July 4, as the South American country moves toward replacing its current conservative charter of the dictatorship era.

The rewriting of the constitution is the result of a broad political consensus reached following widespread social protests that erupted in late 2019 over inequality.

“This convention undoubtedly represents a great opportunity to achieve a new constitution that will be recognized and respected by all Chileans in a framework of unity and stability towards the future for our democracy,” Pinera said on Sunday.

Over the course of nine months, the 155-member drafting body will have to balance a popular outcry for profound social change with the need to maintain a robust economy while rewriting the old constitution, which dates back to the reign of Augustus. Pinochet.

His term could be extended for three more months, and the body will need a two-thirds majority to approve the bill which will be submitted to a national referendum next year, in which vote will be mandatory.

Chile has seen widespread protests over inequality in 2019 [File: Claudio Reyes/AFP]

Chile’s existing constitution dates back to 1980, enacted at the height of Pinochet’s rule in 1973-1990, and limits the role of the state while supporting private enterprise.

It is blamed by many for the deep-rooted gulf between rich and poor, but hailed by others, mostly right, for the country’s decades of economic growth.

In the body’s choice to write the new charter, voters in May turned their backs on traditional political parties and turned to independent candidates with no party affiliation but mostly left-wing or socialist ideas.

Many of the independent candidates – an assortment of professors, writers, journalists, lawyers and activists – have been involved or inspired by the 2019 uprisings and are campaigning for promises of social change.

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