- Paula Molina
- Chile, special to BBC News World
“Once again, despite the difficulties, we have decided to solve the problems of democracy with more democracy, not less.”
Chilean President Gabriel Boric on Monday evaluated the new deal as Congress restarted the process of drafting a new constitution.
The agreed new rules are the result of nearly 100 days of negotiations It began after the September 4, 2022 referendum, when citizens rejected the first constitutional proposal elaborated by a convention by 62%.
The day after the rejection’s victory, Boric called on Senate and Chamber leaders to “agree as soon as possible on the timelines and boundaries of a new constitutional process.”
By responding to the demands of the opposition, the government began to give importance to the Congress in the face of other legislative urgency and citizen concerns such as security. An agreement ratified by 14 political parties with parliamentary representation was reached.
According to the signed document, the new constitutional proposal will be drawn up by the 50-member Constituent Assembly in popular elections. The Council works in conjunction with Congress-appointed expert committees. Approved standards are reviewed by a Technical Council elected by the Senate and composed of 14 judges.
To restart the process under these new rules and submit a new proposal to a vote in November 2023, Congress must approve a new constitutional reform plan with immediate debate by the executive branch.
BBC Mundo presents the content of the agreement, the differences it represents with the previous element process and the reactions generated by the document.
1. What was agreed?
“Debating and writing a constitution is important and essential today and requires a level of expertise, expertise; likewise, it should be done with special dedication by a body other than Congress.”
This was one of the first passages of the so-called “Treaty for Chile.”
According to the document, the drafting of the constitution will begin with the drafting of an expert commission to be established in January 2023.
The expert commission will consist of 24 individuals with “undeniable professional, technical and/or academic trajectories”., elected equally by the Lower House and Senate. Its members are elected according to the representation of the political powers in Congress and are approved by a four-seventh vote of each chamber.
Once in office, the commission makes its decisions in a three-fifths committee and must submit its proposal to the Constitutional Council, which joins with the right to speak but not vote.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Council will be elected in April 2023 by universal and compulsory suffrage. and will have 50 members, maintain a gender equality scale and availability of indigenous seats.
Once its work begins, in May 2023, the Council can approve, reject or modify the proposal of the expert group, and discuss and approve the terms and final text of the new constitution by a three-fifths vote.
Both the Expert Commission and the Conference will follow gender equality criteria.
Finally, the two regulations approved by both the Expert Commission and the Constitutional Council will be reviewed by a 14-person Technical Approval Committee elected by Congress and approved by four-sevenths of both chambers.
As per the proposed itinerary, New plan C.The Constitution will be delivered on October 21, 2023 It will be submitted to a ratification vote with a binding vote on November 26, 2023.
2. How is it different from the previous process?
The New Deal marks a significant departure from the previous constitutional process.
One of the symbols of the distance between the previous process and the new proposal No member of the dissolved Constitutional Convention can participate in the Expert Commission Or the now proposed Constituent Assembly.
The agreement replaces the term Constitutional Convention with the Constitutional Council, reduces the number of members from 155 to 50, and although it maintains a 100 percent elected body to draft a new constitution, it remains with an expert commission limited to Congress. and a technical committee arising out of Parliament.
In general, under the new rules, Congress would have more power in the development of the constitutional process. Parliament will have an exclusive role in selecting two of the three instances of the process: the Expert Commission and the Technical Approval Committee working alongside the 100% elected Constituent Assembly.
The New Deal will give political parties more power in the constitutional process. The first convention was elected with a mechanism favoring the election of independent candidates. This time, voting will be conducted according to the electoral system applicable to the Senate, with open lists created by parties or party agreements. Although the lists may include independent persons, this increases the power of the communities within the assembly elections.
As for the indigenous seats – which was a total of 17 in the previous convention – this time in the Constituent Council those seats will be allocated according to the percentage of effective voting carried by the indigenous seat ballot.
The new constitutional proposal will not be drawn from a “blank sheet of paper”, but from 12 constitutional principles pre-agreed upon by the parties and incorporated into the treaty, in which Chile is defined as “social and democratic law”. The flag, coat of arms and national anthem are recognized as national emblems and enshrine the bicameral legislative authority constituted by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
3. Who supports the treaty and who rejects it?
The agreement is supported by a wide range of parties, including left and centre-left forces in government today, former Consertations members (including the Socialist, Radical and Christian Democratic parties) and right-wing and centre-right groups. In opposition.
Within bodies with parliamentary representation, the Republican Party, on the extreme right of the political spectrum, walked away from the deal, arguing that the country did not need a new constitution.
The People’s Party, a self-defined group with “no political ideologies”, pulled out of the deal, criticizing the talks as “political cooking”.
One of the main topics of discussion in the days leading up to the signing of the treaty was how to structure the constitution. Government parties bid for a body elected one hundred percent by citizens, while opposition parties promoted a mixed convention, with expert voices appointed by Congress.
“An incomplete agreement is preferable to no agreement at all,” he said pBoric resident In the final days of negotiations, it was decided to include two options: an elected Constitutional Council with the right to speak and vote, and an expert commission elected and defined in Congress that would have only the right to draft and vote. Speak actively.
Deputy Javier Macaya, who persevered in the negotiations despite threats from radicalized sectors, vowed that the deal was “not a victory for himself, but the resumption of a bloc’s path.”
The parliamentarian said that the pre-approved constitutional bases and the development of the preliminary plan designed by the expert commission would avoid “repetitive tests”.
In the Communist Party, another of the signatories to the agreement, former presidential candidate and mayor Daniel Zadu, confirmed using social networks. In the agreement, “the ghosts of supervised democracy linger”But the PC said it would join the process “to deny space to those who continue to believe they are the owners of Chile”.
“We were hoping for a 100% elected system… but we need 4/7 in Congress, we need the votes of the right,” Diego Ibáñez, head of the pro-government Frente Amplio, said in a statement to Radio Cooperative. .
“We know it’s going to be a constitution, it’s not going to leave everyone happy, but it’s going to establish a minimum platform, a social democratic law, which will help implement social changes. And it will bind us to a new social contract”.
Remember you can get updates from BBC News World. Download the latest version of our apps and activate them so you never miss our best content.