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Why Chile’s Plans for a New Constitution are Causing Headaches for the Government

The left-wing administration of Gabriel Boric is concerned the May 7 vote to elect the members of the Constitutional Council will hand the right a sweeping majority

The Chilean government of Gabriel Boric is realistic about its prospects at Sunday’s election, when 15.1 million people will vote to elect the 50 councilors who will draft a new proposed Constitution. The current Constitution was drawn up behind closed doors during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Last year, a Constitutional Convention proposed a progressive new charter, with an emphasis on gender equality, environmental issues and recognition of indigenous peoples. But it failed to win support, with 62% of voters voting against it in the September national plebiscite.

Unlike on that occasion, when the left-wing government openly rallied for the document to be approved, this time it has decided to keep a strategic distance from the vote. The goal of this approach is to ensure that Sunday’s ballot is not seen as a referendum on the government, whose approval ratings are floundering at around 30%. Even so, the far-right and the traditional right are expected to win a majority of seats on the Constitutional Council.

More than 350 candidates are running to be elected on Sunday. These are divided into five different political groups. But the alliance that makes up the Chilean government is competing in two separate coalitions: Unity for Chile, which is made up of Boric’s party Social Convergence, the Communist Party, Broad Front (FA), the Socialist Party and the Liberal Party; and Everything for Chile, which is made up of the Party for Democracy (PPD), the Radical Party and Christian Democratic Party (PDC), the latter of which is not in the government.

The Chilean government is concerned how it will fare at Sunday’s vote, given it is running in two separate groups. According to analyst Pepe Auth, Unity for Chile is set to come in second spot after the right-wing coalition Safe Chile. This outcome would see it secure between 14 and 15 seats on the Constitutional Council. But there is also the possibility that the combined result from the two pro-government coalitions will be under 21 seats, the minimum required to have veto power on the body that will draft the new Constitution.

Source : El Pais