Constitutional Process NATIONAL

Expert Commission finishes preliminary constitutional draft

The Expert Commission finished writing the preliminary draft of Chile’s constitutional proposal. The draft includes articles on social rights, the environment and indigenous peoples. The popularly elected Constitutional Council will start working with the draft next week.

On Tuesday, the Expert Commission finished work and presented a preliminary constitutional draft containing 14 chapters and 215 articles.

“The Expert Commission has fulfilled its mandate to draft and approve the preliminary draft constitution. It will be delivered to the Constitutional Council on Wednesday, June 7, during its installation session,” newspaper La Tercera quoted commission president Verónica Undurraga of center-left PPD party as saying.

The 25 experts – selected by Congress according to political considerations – started work on the draft in March.

The draft establishes a presidential system and a bicameral Congress. Chile is defined as a social and democratic and rule-of-law state, which should “promote the progressive development of social rights through state and private institutions.”

It also outlines norms to strengthen political parties, establish rights to health, education, water, social security and housing, and it includes chapters on the environment and the recognition of indigenous peoples.

The private sector component in the provision of social rights was essential for the opposition, as the state would be the main actor, but still make space for private involvement.

More about the constitutional process: 

How will the new constitution address the environment?

According to CNN Chile, Liberal Party representative Leslie Sánchez said, “a social state does not mean either pure statism or total privatization. There will be [private] clinics, [private health insurance], complementary insurance, but it is the state that will control and supervise them in a more efficient and effective way.”

Sebastián Soto, the commission’s vice president and on the ticket of center-right party Evópoli, said, “we have learned to seek common ground, in order to hand the Constitutional Council a proposal of consensus, one that convenes and does not divide. A constitution that does not belong to one party, but that aspires to be the draft constitution of all.”

He added, “the draft may have some articles that some of us may not like so much, but which in the end satisfy us collectively.”

How might the new constitution address gender equality and sexual freedom?

What’s next?

The Constitutional Council will complete the draft starting next week. The council’s 50 members were popularly elected on May 7, with the far-right Republican Party achieving a supermajority that could change the draft completely.

Combined, right-wing forces hold over 30 seats.

Republican Party member Luis Silva was the most voted candidate in the elections and will head the council.

The council’s deadline is Nov. 6, after which the draft will go back to the Expert Commission for final review. The commission’s suggestions must be approved by a 3/5 council majority or rejected by 2/3.

An exit plebiscite is penciled in for Dec. 17. A previous constitutional proposal was rejected by 62 percent of Chileans in the plebiscite on Sept. 4 last year.

Also read: 

Luis Silva: The councilor who is likely to lead the Constitution drafting process


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