On October 25, a democratic majority in Chile voted that the country needs a new Constitution. 78.27% of voters in the Referendum green-lighted the process of drafting a new Constitution, choosing the Constitutional Convention as the preferred body to do so, an option that prevailed over the Mixed Convention alternative by 78.99%.
The new Constitution will be drafted by a Convention consisting of 155 members, to be elected by voters on April 11, 2021. They will have 9 months to draw up a new Constitution, allowing the possibility to extend this deadline by 3 months for one time only. Finally, in mid 2022, the country will vote in a final Referendum to either approve or reject the new Constitution.
How will the Constitutional Convention be formed?
The Constitutional Convention will be made up of 155 representatives, who will be voted in on April 11, 2021. The districts will be the same ones as in the election of Deputies (28 districts in total) and voting will be based on a proportional system. Special rules will apply in this election to facilitate the participation of independent candidates and to ensure gender parity between the elected representatives.
What will the structure of the Convention be?
The Constitution states that the Convention must have a President and a Vice President, both elected by an absolute majority of the Convention Representatives, in addition to a technical secretariat made up of individuals with proven academic or professional qualifications. Apart from this, it will be up to the Convention to decide on how to carry out its duties.
What is the Convention's role and what are its limitations?
The sole purpose of the Convention is to draft and approve a new Constitution, and therefore it cannot intervene or exercise any other function pertaining to other bodies or authorities.
When drafting the new Constitution, it must also respect the nature of the State of Chile as a Republic, its democratic regime, its final and enforceable judicial rulings, and the international treaties in force that have been ratified by Chile.
What does “blank slate” mean?
It has been said that the new Constitution will be written on a "blank slate". What this means is that the Convention must draft a new constitutional text rather than provide a revised version of the current Constitution.
How will the Convention reach its agreements and what does the 2/3 quorum imply?
The Convention must approve the rules of the new Constitution and the regulations for voting on them by a quorum of two thirds of the representatives in office. This is done to achieve a high level of consensus before the final text can be put to a vote in the final Referendum of 2022.
For how long will the Convention carry out its duties?
The Convention must draft and approve the proposed text of the new Constitution within a maximum of nine months from its first assembly. This period may be extended for an additional three months, but this can only be done once.
How will the final Referendum to approve or reject the new Constitution work?
Once the Convention finalizes its work, it must submit the proposed text to the President of the Republic. He, in turn, must call for a new and final Referendum, to be held sixty days after the call is published (or on the following Sunday, should the sixtieth day not fall on a Sunday). Voting in this Referendum will be compulsory, and there will be a fine of 0.5 to 3 monthly tax units (US$32-190) for non-participation by registered voters. The vote will ask the following question: "Do you approve the text of the new Constitution proposed by the Constitutional Convention? Underneath the question, there will be two horizontal lines, one for each of the voting options: "Approve" and "Reject".
What happens if the new Constitution is approved?
The President of Chile must summon Congress in full so as to enact the new Constitution and swear or promise to respect and abide by it, in a public and solemn act. The text will be published in the Official Gazette within ten days following its enactment and will become effective on that date.
What happens if the new Constitution is rejected?
The 1980 Constitution and its amendments will remain effective (notwithstanding any new amendments potentially introduced by the National Congress, as has been the case so far).