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Chilean voters overwhelmingly rejected the country’s new leftist constitution Sunday, a highly-ambitious charter that aimed to transform the country into a more egalitarian society, the Washington Post reported.
Chile held a referendum over the weekend asking voters to approve or reject a new constitution that would replace the 1980 charter created during the regime of strongman General Augusto Pinochet.
The current constitution is considered the most market-friendly in the world.
But election officials said that around 62 percent of voters rejected the proposed constitution, while 38 percent approved it.
The 388-article document faced intense criticism over its length, and that it was too left-leaning and too radical – particularly in its proposed structural changes to Chile’s political and judicial systems.
It would have guaranteed certain unprecedented civil rights, especially to women and Indigenous and LGBTQ individuals, as well as legal access to abortion. It also ensured access to high-quality education, healthcare and water and included a long list of environmental protections.
One of the core proposals described Chile as a “plurinational” country made up of autonomous Indigenous nations and communities. This change caused much friction among voters, as many feared it would divide the country.
The resounding rejection marks a significant shift by Chileans following the mass protests of 2019. At the time, thousands of working- and middle-class people took to the streets to protest the inequalities in the country.
Politicians afterward proposed drafting a new constitution to quell the unrest: In a 2020 referendum, Chileans voted in favor of compiling a new charter.
But the process was marred by misinformation, confusion and controversies that split voters over the final draft.
Sunday’s vote also dealt a major blow to Chile’s young leftist President Gabriel Boric, who famously pledged to voters last year that “if Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave.”
The rejection will make it harder for Boric to implement his bold agenda.
Even so, he accepted the results and called on lawmakers and leaders to start working with a wider group of people on a new charter “that unites us as a country.”