Chile’s constitutional reform is on the right track (so far)
“Agreement for New Constitution”
Courtesy of Libertad y Progreso
After a long day of negotiations, an agreement has been reached regarding the mechanism for drafting a new Constitution [in Chile], among a broad spectrum of political parties from both the ruling coalition and the opposition.
The basic elements are as follows:
1.Plebiscite of entry : The plebiscite will be held in April 2020 and citizens will be asked two questions:
A. Do you want a new Constitution? I approve or reject.
B. What kind of body should write the new Constitution? Constitutional Mixed Convention or Constitutional Convention.
2. Composition : The Constitutional Mixed Convention would be formed in equal parts by elected members for this purpose, and current parliamentarians. On the other hand, in the case of the Constitutional Convention, all its members would be elected for this purpose in an election that will be held in October 2020, together with the regional and municipal elections, under the same electoral system that governs the elections of deputies in the corresponding proportions.
3. Purpose: The constituent body that is elected shall have the sole purpose of drafting the new Constitution, shall not affect the powers and powers of the other organs and powers of the State, and shall be dissolved once the task of drafting the Constitution is completed. Likewise, it may not alter the quorum or procedures for the adoption of agreements.
4. Rules and operation : The rules and regulations approving them must be approved by the constituent body by a quorum of 2/3 of its members in office.
5. Ratifying or outgoing referendum: Once the new text has been drafted, within 60 days it will be submitted to a ratifying referendum, the voting for which will be carried out with a mandatory vote.
6. Disqualifications: People who hold public office and popular election will cease their positions when their candidacy is accepted by SERVEL. Likewise, those who have participated in the constituent body may not be candidates for positions of popular election for one year after they cease their term of office.
7. Technical Commission : will be in charge of solving and determining all the essential aspects to materialize this mechanism. Its composition will be equal between opposition and officialism.
8. Duration of the Constituent Body : 9 months, extendable only once up to 3 months.
9. Entry into force: The new Constitution will govern from the time of its promulgation and publication, at which point the current Constitution will be repealed.
From the perspective of the role that politics should play in democracy, it is valuable that, in a complex scenario like the current one, the great majority of political parties have made an effort to reach an agreement on these matters.
Likewise, another aspect that is very positive is the agreement that the norms of a possible new Constitution must be approved by a quorum of 2/3 . This guarantees that the new constitutional text produced by the agreement of the constituent body also represents a minimum consensus among all Chileans, and not a text approved by a circumstantial majority . These provisions also allow its permanence and stability over time, such fundamental issues for legal certainty.
Another noteworthy aspect is that, in the case of the Constitutional Convention or the Mixed Convention, for the part that would be composed of members elected by the citizens it was decided that these members be elected under the same electoral system that governs the elections of deputies in the corresponding proportion, which is important for guaranteeing legitimacy.
Finally, the commitment undertaken by the political parties to the restoration of peace and public order, and the total respect for human rights and democratic institutions, are also very relevant . It is hoped that this will be also reflected in their deliberation and approval of the legislative security agenda presented by the government.
At this time, the first thing to do is to restore public order and end the unfortunate and unacceptable acts of violence that we have confronted in recent times. Without public order or social peace, it becomes very difficult to discuss substantial matters that will have an impact on the lives of all Chileans, as is the Constitution.