Chilean voters have rejected a new, progressive constitution that would have transformed the country into one of the world’s most left-leaning societies.
In a referendum on Sunday Sep. 4, almost 62% of voters voted against adopting the constitution, written from scratch after protests against rising metro fares in Santiago in 2019 evolved into mass protests against corruption, the cost of living and inequality in the country.
The protests led to a referendum in 2020 to rewrite the constitution, which won by a landslide, with 78% of voters agreeing to draft a new constitution to replace the one that dated back to military rule under former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The new constitution, backed by the leftist president Gabriel Boric, a 36-year-old former student protest leader, would have legalized abortion, mandated universal health care, required gender equality in government and more, according to the New York Times.
It would have enshrined more than 100 rights into the national charter, setting a global record, and included commitments to fight climate change.
It also would have declared Chile as a “plurinational state”, recognizing the right of Chile’s Indigenous groups – which account for about 13 percent of the population – to govern their own territories, have their own courts and be recognized as their own nations within Chile.
“Today, the people of Chile have spoken, and they have spoken loud and clear,” Boric said after the results.
He said that he would work with Congress and other sectors of society to begin drafting another constitution that takes on board the lessons learned from the process and manages to interpret the views of a broad majority of citizens,” according to Reuters.
“As President of the Republic, it is with great humility that I take this message,” he said. “We have to listen to the voice of the people. Not just today, but the last intense years we’ve lived through.”