In conversation with Chile Today, former member of the Constitutional Convention Guillermo Namor talks about the process. Namor reveals the important job he had in the Harmonization Commission and notes the highlights of the final text. He also explains why he is voting Apruebo.
What do you think of the constitutional drafting process and the result?
I’m satisfied with it. I think that it was a process that gives an answer to the demands that inspired it; and, in that sense, one of the most concrete ways of seeing it is to check the index. It shows a chapter on fundamental rights that includes social rights; like education, health, and a dignified home; a chapter on democratic participation; one on good government; and another for environmental protection. This text modernizes our political system and assures the independence of the justice power. And the most relevant thing: it changes from a subsidiary state to a social and democratic state of rights.
Do you think the process was complete?
It wasn’t a complete process at all. I think there is a lot to improve, and it is fundamental that we members do a self-critical process about the things that could have been done better. One of the things that we should have improved is the communication with the public during this year of work. Maybe some members did not appreciate the historic responsibility that we were handed, generating scandals that deflected the attention from the constitutional process. I remember a poll from Publimetro that said that most of the sensation surrounding the proposed new Constitution had more to do with the process and the actions of the members of the Convention than with the text.
You were part of the Political System Commission. What were its biggest achievements?
The biggest accomplishment was the work surrounding the distribution of power, where we moved forward to unlock the actual constitutional mechanisms that held back democracy for the country. That means the possibility to give to the majorities, independent from their political affinities, the power to make changes. And, in a concrete way, that means to eliminate the preventive control of constitutionality, remove the supermajority quorums in the processing of laws (except the ones that are referred to as institutional controls), and the substitution of the Senate for a chamber that effectively accomplishes a territorial role.
Once the draft was ready, all eyes were on your Harmonization Commission. What were its main challenges?
One of the things I worked on was the “Chapter of Good Government and Public Function.” This is a pioneering one that did not exist in the draft and that was created without a previous background. I think it is an innovative chapter, and I would like to highlight three things about it. First, it gives an effective answer to the fight against corruption with norms like the protection of whistleblowers and the extension of the Council for Transparency. Second, the part about public administration, which gives to the institutions the power to supervise and sanction. And third, the embodiment of the general principles of economic activity from the State. This nails down the transition from a subsidiary State to a one of social and democratic rights.
Why should Chileans vote in favor of the proposed new Constitution on Sept. 4?
I believe that the new Constitution is best for democracy, and it is a document that opens, not one that closes. This text gives an answer to the people’s demands, materializing social rights in subjects like health, education, and pensions. It is a Constitution that puts on the first line the citizens’ participation and the protection of the environment, recognizing that we are in a context of climate crisis. I believe that it is a Constitution that answers 21 century demands, and that will allow us to build a future from a democratic base.
Catalina Vergara is graduated in Social Communications from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She has previously worked on Strategic Communications.