Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Change wins in Chile

This time last year, Chile was in rebellion against its government. Protests against a train fare increase turned into protests against inequality, and then, when the right-wing government deployed the military to crush them, into protests against the government and the dictator-imposed constitution. And the protestors won: half the cabinet was sacked, and the government was forced to concede a referendum on constitutional reform.

Yesterday, Chileans voted in that referendum. And they chose change:

Chile has voted overwhelmingly in favor of rewriting the country’s constitution to replace guiding principles imposed four decades ago under the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Jubilant pro-reform supporters took to the streets of the capital Santiago and other cities to celebrate on Sunday night after exit polls showed that 78.24% of people had voted to approve a rewrite, while 21.76% rejected the change.

Voters also elected for the new constitution to be entirely drafted by a popularly elected body – meaning no active lawmakers can be involved in the process.

Of course, they still need to elect the constitutional assembly, and then actually write a new draft, and there's a lot of ways that process could go wrong, a lot of chances for the rich to put their thumb on the scales and prevent this democratic demand from being realised. But if they do that too obviously, Chile will be right back where it was last year, only with less chance for a peaceful solution.