October 27, 2020
Proceso Constitucional

CONSTITUENT PROCESS

CONSTITUENT PROCESS

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.

STAGES OF THE CONSTITUENT PROCESS

  • November 15, 2019: Agreement for Peace and the New Constitution
  • December 24, 2019: Constitutional reform that amends the current Constitution to incorporate the schedule and rules of the constituent process.
  • March 29, 2020: The President issues a decree calling for a first Referendum on October 25, 2020.
  • October 25, 2020: Referendum to decide whether to approve or reject the idea of drafting a new Constitution, and to choose the body in charge of drafting it in case of approval.
  • December 24, 2020: Deadline to enact changes prior to the election of the Constitutional Convention Representatives, such as the number of reserved seats, gender parity and special rules for independent candidates.
  • April 11, 2021: Election of the Constitutional Convention Representatives.
  • May or June 2021: Initial assembly of the Constitutional Convention.
  • Up to 9 or 12 months later: The Convention agrees on a final text for the new Constitution.
  • Approximately 60 days later (around August 2022): Final Referendum to 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).

OTHER KEY DATES IN THIS PROCESS

On how the convention operates

  • 30 days after the election (maximum deadline): The Electoral Tribunal (TRICEL) will proclaim the elected Representatives.
  • 3 days after the TRICEL’s announcement (maximum deadline): The TRICEL will notify its decision to The President of Chile and the National Congress.
  • 3 days after the notification by the TRICEL to the President: The President of Chile will call for the Convention’s initial assembly.
  • 15 days following the call for the Convention’s first assembly (maximum deadline): Initial assembly of the Convention, whether it is a Constitutional Convention or a Mixed Convention. In its first session, the Convention must elect a President and a Vice-President.
  • 9 months after the Convention’s first assembly (or 12 months, if a one-time 3-month extension has been requested): The body must submit the new Constitution’s text, drafted and approved by two thirds of its members in office. Having fulfilled its sole purpose, the body will then be fully dissolved as ordained by law, and the Convention's members will be disqualified from holding public office for one year following the end of their term as Representatives.
  • 3 days after the submission of the final text proposed by the Convention (maximum deadline): The President will call a final Referendum to ratify the new Constitution. This call will be served by means of a Supreme Decree published in the Official Gazette.

On the ratification of the proposed text for the new constitution

  • 60 days after the publication in the Official Gazette of the Supreme Decree calling for a Ratifying Referendum, or the following Sunday, should the sixtieth day not fall on a Sunday: The final Referendum will take place. Participation will be mandatory for all registered voters in Chile, facing fines of 0.5 to 3 UTM (US$32-190) for non-participation.
  • 30 days after the Ratifying Referendum (maximum deadline): Deadline for qualification of the Referendum's results by the TRICEL.
  • 3 days after the TRICEL’s qualification (maximum deadline): The TRICEL will notify its decision to The President of Chile and the National Congress. If the new Constitution has been rejected, the process ends here. If the new Constitution has been approved, the following steps will ensue.
  • 5 days after the TRICEL's notification to the President (maximum deadline): The President of Chile will 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.
  • 10 days after the enactment of the new Constitution by Congress in full (maximum deadline): The text of the new Constitution will be published in the Official Gazette and become effective on that same date. The current Constitution will also be repealed on that same date.