Chile’s constitutional campaigns begin with failing public support

Water with red pigment is seen outside the government palace during a rally as the constitutional assembly leads the ceremony to hand over the final draft of the new constitution in Santiago, Chile July 4, 2022. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

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SANTIAGO, July 6 (Reuters) – Election campaigns to approve or reject Chile’s proposed new constitution officially began on Wednesday and leading political and public figures began to choose sides at a time of waning public support.

President Gabriel Boric expressed his personal support for the new constitution, saying it would contribute to his ambitious social and environmental agenda. Read more

Pedro Pascal, the popular Chilean-American actor from “The Mandalorian” who backed Boric in the election, posted a photo on Twitter with the new constitution expressing his support.

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Chile’s conservative politicians have opposed the new constitution from the start, but former socialist President Ricardo Lagos dealt a blow to the approval campaign on Tuesday after issuing a statement saying the proposed constitution and the existing one are far from garnering support and rallying “the vast majority of citizens.”

“What happened with Lagos is a hugely significant fact when support for the proposal was already waning,” said Kenneth Bunker, head of political consultancy Tresquintos.

Bunker added that Lagos’ position “opens the door for other center-left figures to join.”

Former UN president and human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has previously expressed support, but members of her government, including former finance minister Andres Velasco, spoke out against the new constitution on Wednesday.

Nearly 80% of Chileans voted to draft a new constitution in 2020 to replace a text that dates back to Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship that ended in 1990, but support has been dropping for months amid political controversies surrounding the process . Read more

Cadem’s latest poll shows 51% of those polled plan to vote for the new magna carta, an all-time high, while only 15% remain undecided.

“People want a new constitution, but apparently they don’t want this one,” Bunker said, adding that the government needed a “plan B” to address social demands if the new text was rejected.

A congressional committee approved removing the requirement to reform the current constitution by a congressional vote of 2/3 to 4/7 on Tuesday, a measure that will now be considered by the full body.

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Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Written by Alexander Villegas, edited by Alexandra Hudson

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