Constitutional Process NATIONAL POLITICS

New constitutional process in Chile kicks-off

Previously selected by members of congress, the constitutional expert commission started work on Mar. 6. Tasked with writing the bases of the new Constitution, the first day was marked by organizational duties. Authorities aim to address concerns about the body’s technocratic nature by ensuring that the drafting process opens up to democratic participation.    

On Monday, the heads of Chile’s congress received the 24 members of the expert commission that will help draft the new Constitution.

An inauguration ceremony, excluding current political authorities, took place in the old congress building in Santiago. 

The commission will prepare the preliminary draft that will serve as the basis for the constitutional council, which will include 50 members – to be popularly elected on May 7 – and start work in June. Formalities of the commission’s first day included electing a board and spokespersons.

Members were selected by congress, with the lower house and the senate voting on 12 each, abiding by a 4/7 quorum. The experts have a strong academic background and are not running for public office but, given the nature of the process, do not subscribe to ideas lawmakers disapprove of.

Senate president Álvaro Elizalde was quoted by news site Cooperativa as saying that the commission will only draft the preliminary version to ensure broader public participation further down the road.

After the initial drafting, the experts will become part of the constitutional council, which will have 74 members, plus a yet to be determined amount of additional seats for indigenous peoples. This council will work on the final draft to be voted in a plebiscite on Dec. 17.

The previous draft constitution was rejected by 62 percent of Chileans in a plebiscite in September.

Also read:

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

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