Progressive forces win majority of seats in Chile’s Constitutional Convention

May 21, 2021
An image from Chile's 2019–20 uprising.

More than 6 million Chileans participated in the poll on May 15 and 16 to elect 155 members of the Constitutional Convention — which will draft the country’s new constitution.

Chile’s Electoral Service (SERVEL) published the preliminary results on May 17, according to which, the independent and left-wing forces won the majority of seats in the Convention. Meanwhile, the right-wing forces — which have vowed to block any social reforms in the constitution writing process and are against a new constitution — suffered a defeat.

With 99.13% of the votes counted, the independent candidates from different social movements, trade unions and other popular organisations, who emerged during the social uprising of October 2019, won 48 seats.

The “I Approve Dignity” list, made up of the Communist Party of Chile, the Broad Front and other anti-neoliberal parties, won 28 seats. The “Approval” list of center-left, social democratic parties won 25 seats. The “Let’s go for Chile” list, a coalition of right-wing parties, including the ruling alliance, won 37 seats. The results for the 17 seats reserved for Indigenous communities will be announced separately.

Regional and municipal elections were also held to elect 16 regional governors, 345 mayors and 2240 municipal councilors for the period 2021–25. Preliminary results indicated a similar blow to the governing coalition, which lost important mayoral offices and regional governments. Meanwhile, left-wing parties retained their municipalities and gained several others across the country, including in the capital, Santiago.

Rodrigo Mundaca, a prominent social leader and human rights defender, is poised to be the governor of the region of Valparaíso, the second most important region in the country. Similarly, Jorge Sharp of the Broad Front appears to have been reelected as the mayor of Valparaíso, while Macarena Ripamonti of the Broad Front is leading in the race to become mayor of Viña del Mar, traditionally dominated by the right wing, and Daniel Jadue of the Communist Party is likely to be reelected as mayor of Recoleta.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera recognised the overwhelming defeat of the ruling party and the traditional parties in the elections and the dissatisfaction of the population towards them. In his address to the nation, Piñera said: “The citizens have sent a clear and strong message to the government and also to all traditional political forces. We are not adequately tuning in with the demands and desires of the citizens. We are being challenged by new expressions and leadership” and added that “it is our duty to listen with humility and attention to the message of the people.”

The majority of constituents are clearly in favour of structural changes and against the economic and political model in place for the last five decades. It seems that Chilean society is one step closer to achieving progressive changes and emancipating itself from the current constitution, which promotes socioeconomic inequality, and was drafted and imposed in 1980 under the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973–90).

Chile’s uprising, which started with high school students rejecting transportation fare hikes and galvanised the majority of the population, has seen its first electoral manifestation, a ratification for change and broadening of rights for the people.

[Abridged from Peoples Dispatch.]

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