Chile’s New Draft Constitution Shifts Focus Away from Indigenous, Social Rights

The new draft proposal for the country’s constitution is a very different text from the one that was rejected in a plebiscite last September

The Chilean flag.
By Philip Sanders
June 06, 2023 | 02:10 PM

Bloomberg — A new draft constitution drawn up in Chile signals the seismic shift that’s taken place in the South American nation in the past year as a wave of social protests has given way to a conservative backlash.

Gone are the lengthy debates on the role of indigenous groups, sexual minorities and social rights that dominated the previous proposal, which was rejected in a referendum last year. In are mentions of the judiciary and the established political parties that had lost their grip on the country.

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The draft was drawn up by a committee of experts in the first phase of renewed attempts to replace the charter written under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

A new elected council will start discussion of the proposal Wednesday, with four months to make changes and vote on the document article by article. The prior version was written by a Constitutional Assembly that was dominated by left-wing independents and environmental activists, sidelining the old political parties.


Fewer words, fewer pages

Counting up the number of times certain words appear in the two versions of the charter reveals the fundamental shift in emphasis between the two documents.

The term ‘indigenous’ appeared in the former draft 79 times, while it only appears four times in the new draft; the term ‘parity’ appeared 18 times in the former draft, and does not appear in the new one; the term ‘gender’ appeared 46 times in the former draft, but does not appear once in the new draft; ‘social’ appeared 79 times in the former, but only 29 times in the new draft, and the term ‘rights’ appeared 220 times in the former draft, but only 70 times in the new draft constitution.

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Political parties had agreed to draw up a new constitution as a way to end a wave of protests that paralyzed the country in late 2019. But Chileans then got cold feet over the charter drawn up by the Constitutional Assembly, fearing it gave too much power to indigenous groups and broke up the checks and balances on government power.


Among the changes in the most recent document is the absence of greater autonomy for indigenous groups and a drive to guarantee parity between men and women is spheres of government.

The new draft is also much shorter, at about 128 pages, compared with 162 pages of the former draft.


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