Constitutional Process NATIONAL

Chileans Abroad Can’t Vote on Who Writes Constitution, House Rules

SANTIAGO – Nearly 60,000 Chileans living outside the country will not be able to vote next Apr. 11, when Chile decides who will write the new Constitution. A bill that sought to give Chileans abroad a chance to vote and to nominate their delegates was dismissed in the House due to a lack of quorum. Many Chileans abroad participated in the referendum on Oct. 25, and overwhelmingly voted for Apruebo.

Chileans abroad will not be able to decide who writes their new Constitution next year. A bill in the House of Representatives needed a minimum quorum of 93 votes but garnered only 79; as it turned out, 65 representatives, mainly from the Chilean right-wing coalition Chile Vamos, voted against the bill. With the dismissal, nearly 60,000 Chileans will not be able to participate in the historic election.

The bill sought a constitutional reform, as under the current Constitution Chileans abroad are only allowed to participate in presidential elections and plebiscites. Apart from giving those abroad a chance to vote, the bill would have created a 29th district to give Chileans abroad three delegates who could form part of the Constitutional Assembly and write the new Constitution.

During the plebiscite on Oct. 25, over 30,000 of the nearly 60,000 Chileans authorized to vote participated. Many of them voted in favor of a new Constitution. While in Chile Apruebo won with 78 percent, abroad nearly 87 percent of the votes were in favor of writing a new Constitution. The large lines outside polling stations at embassies and consulates around the world were illustrative of how much the vote meant to Chileans living abroad.

This large Apruebo support might actually be a reason why the Chile Vamos coalition voted against the bill. According to T13, Representative Matiás Walker (DC) said that “the right wing, when it has to choose, always opts for less democracy.”

On Twitter, Frente Amplio representative Camila Rojas wrote that the right-wing “is constantly playing to limit the participation” in the elections on April 11, 2021.

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