Constitutional Process NATIONAL POLITICS

Constitutional Council elections: what you need to know

On Sunday, May 7, Chileans head to the polls to elect 50 members to the new Constitutional Council. Voting is mandatory. The members chosen will write the final draft of a proposed new constitution.

Chileans go to the polls to elect 50 members for the Constitutional Council on Sunday, May 7. The members elected will be tasked with writing the final draft of a proposed new constitution.

The election will be held according to senate rules, meaning there will be open lists of party coalitions, with each party having its representatives. The number of representatives per region will be proportionate to its population:

  • The Metropolitan, Valparaíso, Maule, and La Araucanía regions will each have five members.
  • The Antofagasta, Coquimbo, O`Higgins, Biobío, Los Ríos, and Los Lagos will each have three.
  • The Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá, Atacama, Ñuble, Aysén, and Magallanes regions will each have two.

Voting will be mandatory for Chileans 18 and over. Those who do not vote will be fined between CLP$31,537 (US$40) and CLP$189,222 (US$240). 

Even so, it won’t be ‘majority rule’, because there must be an equal number of men and women on the council. This means that if the composition through voting is not equal, the number of men and women will have to be “corrected” to reach parity: the candidate of the under-represented group (men or women) with the largest amount of votes, will take the spot of the candidate of the over-represented group with the least amount of votes. 

In the first instance, this correction will be done on a party level. For example, a female candidate from party X in constituency A might take the spot of a male candidate from that same party X in constituency B. If it is not possible to assign a seat to a candidate of the same party, that seat will go to the candidate of the under-represented group with the largest amount of votes within the same party coalition. 

Also read: 

Gender parity not guaranteed in new constitution

In contrast to the 2021 Constitutional Convention elections, there will be no reserved seats for Chile’s indigenous people. Instead, indigenous candidates will have to win their seats. 

Voters who identify as members of an indigenous community will have the option of voting for candidates on the “national constituency of indigenous peoples” list (which transcends the demarcation of regional constituencies), or for the general candidates of their respective constituency. They can only cast one vote, and therefore need to choose between a candidate from their own region, and a candidate from the Indigenous peoples list. 

Political parties have grouped together in coalitions:

    Unidad para ChileConvergencia Social, Revolución Democratica, Comunes, Federación Regionalista Verde Social, Partido Socialista, Partido Comunista, Partido Liberal, and Acción Humanista

    Todo por Chile – Demócrata Cristiano, Partido por la Democracia, and Partido Radical

    Chile Seguro Renovación Nacional, Unión Demócrata Independiente and Evolución Política

    Republicano Partido Republicano

    Pacto con la Gente – Partido de la Gente

 To see the entire candidates list for every region, click here.

More about the new constitution: 

Five ‘axes’ of Chile’s new Constitution, according to the government

The drafting ahead

The elections on May 7 are a response to last year’s historic rejection: on September 4, 2022, 62 percent of Chileans voted against a proposed new constitution in a national plebiscite. Many agreed that the proposed document was too leftist and too radical.

After the vote, a multiparty agreement was reached to start over with the constitutional process. This time, the constitution will be drafted by 50 members of the Constitutional Council. The members of this council, the “constitutional advisors,” will be directly elected.

The final draft will be based on a preliminary draft written by a 24-member “Expert Commission” elected by Congress. The commission has until June 6 to finish its preliminary draft.

The Constitutional Council will then have until November 6 to finish the final draft. On December 17, 2023, a second national plebiscite will be held. If a majority of the public votes in favor of the new constitution, it will become the law of the land.

 

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