National Plebiscite on New Constitution

In Chile the youth and working people courageously faced the militarized carabinero police force day after day in mass actions from October last year through to January 2020. Despite many being killed and hundreds injured, these massive and continuous mobilizations resulted in an important partial victory. Faced with the very real possibility that his unpopular government could be brought down, President Sebastián Piñera agreed to hold a national referendum on the people's longstanding demand for a new constitution. The current constitution was written during the Pinochet dictatorship and enshrines a host of neo-liberal reforms imposed on the people without their consent.

A national plebiscite asking the people if they want a new constitution, Yes or No? will therefore take place on November 25. Most of those who have been fighting for the establishment of a constituent assembly with citizens empowered to draft their own new constitution have taken up the campaign for a Yes victory. They are also urging electors to answer the second question by opting for the first option, the creation of a "Constitutional Convention" made up entirely of citizens elected directly to participate in drafting a new constitution, instead of the government's second option of a "Mixed Constitutional Convention," only half of whose members would be directly-elected citizens, the other half being currently-sitting members of Parliament.

What many regard as a "trap" in the process is that the government has stipulated that in order for a new draft constitution to be adopted it must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the national legislature. That is an obstacle the people are going all out to overcome even as the pandemic, which has hit Chile very hard, has made campaigning more difficult than usual. Chile has the 11th highest number of total cases in the world and a higher number of deaths per 100,000 population than the U.S.

Serving as a poignant reminder of the need to do away with the vestiges of the cruel Pinochet era that remain in the country's constitution, a procession on September 11 marked the 47th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup d'état of 1973. Relatives and friends of the disappeared were joined by many others in a march through the streets of Santiago to honour the late President Salvador Allende and all those killed during and after the coup and to demand justice for the many victims whose whereabouts are still unknown.

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 34 - September 12, 2020

Article Link:
Chile: National Plebiscite on New Constitution


Website:   Email: