News ID: 303134
Published: 0221 GMT May 17, 2021

Chile's gov’t shocked as voters pick independents to draft Constitution

Chile's gov’t shocked as voters pick independents to draft Constitution

Poll workers count the votes after polls closed during the elections for governors, mayors, councilors and constitutional assembly members to draft a new Constitution to replace Chile's charter, in Valparaiso, Chile, on May 16, 2021.

Chile's center-right ruling coalition suffered a shock loss after failing to secure a critical one-third of seats in the body that will draft the country's new Constitution.

With 90% of the votes counted on Sunday night, candidates backed by President Sebastian Pinera's center-right Chile Vamos coalition had won only a fifth while independents picked up the most votes.

New proposals will require two-thirds approval and without a third of the delegates, the government will struggle to block radical changes to the Constitution unless it can forge new alliances, Reuters reported.

The vote to pick 155 citizens to rewrite the Constitution was borne from fierce protests that erupted over inequality and elitism in October 2019. The current Constitution drafted during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet is widely perceived to favor big business over the rights of ordinary citizens.

Until recently, Chile Vamos had been confident its candidates would win at least a third of the vote.

Pinera said his government and other traditional political parties should heed the "loud and clear" message that they had not adequately responded to the needs of citizens.

It was "a great opportunity" for Chileans to build a more "fair, inclusive, prosperous and sustainable country," he added.

CNN's local channel in Chile projected independents would win 45 seats, Chile Vamos would gain 39, the center-left 25, the far-left 28 and a small coalition would take one seat. Seventeen seats have been reserved for members of Chile's indigenous communities who are not mentioned in the present charter.

Pinera cautioned, however, against extreme changes which some fear could threaten Chile's status as one of the wealthiest, most stable democracies in Latin America.

Some of the more controversial ideas being advanced for the new Constitution include potential changes to private land and water rights as well as to employment legislation that could threaten the interests of traditional investors.






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