On 25 October 2020, Chile voted for the revision of its Constitution in a long-awaited referendum. Promulgated on 26 April 2020 by the Head of State, Sebastian Pinera, this referendum project follows the historic agreement of 15 November 2019 with the opposition parties for “peace and the new Constitution”. It responds to the demands of Chilean demonstrators, who have been mobilised since 18 October 2019 following the increase in the metro ticket to protest against persistent social inequalities.
Inherited from the Pinochetist dictatorship (1973-1990), the current Constitution was promulgated on 11 September 1980 to allow conservative sectors of society to remain in power. The country has returned to democratic rule in the last thirty years.
Sebastian Pinera had radically rejected this project at the start of his presidency in 2018 before giving in to pressure from the streets in order to calm the strong tensions that have flared up in Chile: “This referendum, the first in thirty years, should allow us to leave behind the violence and divisions that we have seen resurface with pain and sadness”.
If the principle of the Constitution is approved, it will then be necessary to determine the future body that will govern it; either a mixed congress made up equally of elected citizens and sitting parliamentarians, or a Constituent Assembly made up entirely of citizens elected for that purpose. These are two questions that Chilean citizens are called upon to answer by universal suffrage, a compulsory vote for the occasion in the tense context of the sanitary crisis.