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Chileans rejected a conservative constitution proposal this week, the second attempt in a little over a year to replace the current charter drafted under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the BBC reported.
In a referendum, 56 percent of voters refused the right wing’s draft, which featured the reinforcement of property rights and free-market principles. Critics of the text said it would have allowed crackdowns on abortion rights and minorities, including Indigenous peoples and the queer community.
Last year, a greater majority voted against a left-wing alternative, which would have recognized the country’s Indigenous peoples and implemented reforms to Chile’s upper house of parliament.
Nonetheless, the outcomes of both polls do not necessarily show a will of Chileans to preserve their current constitution, inherited from an era where the military dictator Pinochet was enshrining conservative ideals and ordering the execution of his left-wing opponents, Al Jazeera explained.
The three decades of democracy that followed his authoritarian rule provided stability and economic growth. However, in that period, inequalities rose too.
A boiling point was reached in 2019 when crowds took to the streets to protest a dysfunctional status quo marked by weak representation from political parties and inefficient policy changes. One of the main demands of protesters was to amend the current constitution.
The process of answering that demand saw two successive bodies of elected delegates, one left-leaning and one right-leaning, drafting a new statute for the country.
The two referenda polarized the nation but also highlighted their discontent with business-as-usual politics, a Chile-based journalist told Al Jazeera. Neither proposal adequately addressed the citizens’ social and political needs, he added.
Left-wing President Gabriel Boric said he would not bring constitutional change back on the table for the remainder of his term – which ends in 2025 – saying “there are other urgent matters.”