Chileans will decide in a plebiscite in April if they change the Pinochet Law
MADRID, Nov. 15 (EUROPE PRESS) –
The political parties of the Government and the opposition of Chile, with the exception of the Communist Party (PC), have reached an historic agreement at dawn to launch an unprecedented constitutional process for the country, in response to a month of protests against social inequality in The South American nation.
The agreement “for social peace and the new Constitution”, as they have baptized it, are two pages with twelve points in which they formulate a way that until now had not been tested in Chile to elaborate a Magna Carta.
The process will begin next April with a referendum in which Chileans will answer two questions: “Do you want a new Constitution?” and, in the case of affirmative vote, “What kind of body should write the new Constitution?”.
For this second question, two other possibilities are proposed that represent an intermediate point between the Constituent Congress that wanted the ruling party and the Constituent Assembly that claimed the opposition.
The options are a Constitutional Convention, which will be formed one hundred percent by citizens elected for this purpose, or a Constitutional Mixed Convention, consisting of 50 percent by citizens and parliamentarians.
“The election of the members of both instances will be held in October 2020 together with regional and municipal elections under universal suffrage with the same electoral system that governs deputies,” the agreement states.
In addition, “people who currently hold public office and popular election will cease to be in office” upon being appointed for this task and, once completed, will be disabled for a year to be candidates in charge of popular election. ”
The constituent body “will have the sole purpose of drafting the Constitution”, so “it will be dissolved once the task has been completed”. You will have to adopt your rules and any decision with a quorum of two thirds.
The term to illuminate the new constitutional text is nine months, extendable for three months. The draft Magna Carta will have to undergo a referendum in a maximum of 60 days. In this case, the vote will be mandatory.
“The new Constitution will govern at the time of its promulgation and publication, repealing the current Constitution,” which has been in force since 1980, during the military dictatorship, and is therefore known as the Pinochet Law.
The agreement has come just a week after the Government opened up to the possibility of reforming the Magna Carta, something demanded by both the opposition and the protesters.
The starting point of the negotiations was the formal proposal made by the opposition parties on Wednesday night to the ruling coalition, Chile Vamos. The ruling party responded early Thursday by fostering an intense dialogue that the old Congress, in Santiago, had as a scenario.
The main obstacles along Thursday and Friday were, on the one hand, the intention of Chile. We are going to use the current Constitution as the basis of the new one, so that the provisions that would not be changed would continue automatically. Finally, the opposition position of the “blank sheet” was imposed.
On the other hand, the ruling coalition wanted a constituent body composed mostly of politicians, although with 40 percent citizens. The opposition, on the other hand, opted for a citizen assembly. The parties have bet in the end to transfer the dilemma to the plebiscite.
The only dissonant note is the Communist Party, which fell from the talks on Thursday morning to stand firm in its conviction that the Constituent Assembly is the most democratic mechanism to ensure broad citizen participation that grants full legitimacy to the process. ”
“If the PC does not support this, it will make the same historical mistake as when they did not support the 1988 referendum,” said the leader of the Democratic Revolution, Catalina Pérez, in reference to the historic vote that led to the end of the dictatorship of Pinochet
According to local press, the president, Sebastián Piñera, did not participate directly in the negotiations. He sent to the hard core of his Government and he took care of the internal contacts in Chile Vamos. At 9:00 p.m. (local time) on Friday he retired from the old Congress to La Moneda.
At the edge of 2.30 a meeting point was reached. “Tonight is historic for Chile,” proclaimed Senate President Jaime Quintana, who has captained the negotiations.
THE PRESSURE OF THE STREET
The idea of directly reforming or drafting a new Constitution was not based on the political parties, but on the protesters who, since October 17, have almost daily taken to the streets of Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción and other cities.
The protests began with the fourth rise in the price of the subway in a few months but grew rapidly to denounce social inequality and demand a constitutional change.
Piñera, who initially reacted by declaring a state of emergency, promulgated a “social agenda” to respond to the demands of Chileans and remodeled the Government to carry it out.
Despite this, the protests continued, which led the head of state to weigh the constitutional reform. “We are absolutely available to discuss changes to our Constitution. That may end in reforms or in a new one, but within the channels established by our democracy,” he said.
Chileans have continued to demonstrate despite the fact that negotiations between parties to achieve constitutional change had already started. Thus, Plaza Italia, epicenter of the popular mobilization in Santiago, has dawned this Friday lined with white and with a clear message: “Peace”.
The parties have ratified in the first point of the agreement “their commitment to the restoration of peace and public order and the full respect of Human Rights and democratic institutions.”