Chile will go to the polls on April 11 to elect a Constituent Assembly that will mark history as the first in the world composed of equal parts of men and women. The new Charter could replace the last concrete legacy of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
Conquest of a social uprising in 2019, which began to protest against the increase in public transport fares and which allowed the government to recognize that it was necessary to face old structural demands – “This is not not 30 pesos, that’s 30 years ”- the election must conceive of a more moderate assembly than the streets wanted.
The projections do not specify the ideological composition of the voters, but the Chilean electoral model favors the formation of alliances around single lists, as the right-wing parties have done. If they get a third of the seats, they could block the major reforms feared by investors.
The demands that guided the Constituent Assembly – reforms of the health, education and social security systems, now precarious and exclusive – leave the door open to an increase in public spending, redefining a more subsidiary role for the government, especially after the coronavirus pandemic.
The liberal Chilean model has guaranteed the country a growth of 800% of the GDP (gross domestic product), according to the World Bank, while intensifying social inequalities – 1% of the country owns a third of its wealth, according to United Nations data For the development. Program.
Today, the Constitution, which has been reformed several times over the past 30 years, reserves a residual role for the state in the provision of social services, such as health and education, and does not recognize rights of indigenous peoples who want their recognition.
Contemporary themes, such as gender equality, should be highlighted in the debates. Until a few months ago, women could not get married for 270 days after the divorce or the death of the husband to avoid doubts about the paternity of their children. The women’s movement that has taken to the streets hopes to rewrite a charter in which men and women have equal rights, correcting historical injustices.
But the results of the pioneering experience of having a constitution drafted equally by men and women will also depend on the profile of elected women, as not all women support gender equality agendas. The center-left, more open to progressive guidelines, has been fragmented into at least three important lists.
In total, 74 lists are registered, mostly independent candidates, who try to respond to the desire for political renewal in the streets. Without the big party structure to campaign, however, they must show that the drive for political renewal does not always translate into results.
The outcome of the election is uncertain. On the same day, mayors, councilors and, for the first time, regional governors will be elected, today appointed by the President of the Republic. This, in fact, must be another mission of the Constituent: to abandon hyper-presidentialism for a more decentralized model.
Guaranteed today, there is pressure from social movements for greater popular participation in the overhaul of Chile. If successful, the Chilean experience will serve as an example of how it is not possible to have political stability with such high rates of inequality.