Chilean voters overwhelmingly rejected a new draft constitution in a referendum on Sunday.
With 98% of the ballots counted, 62% of voters rejected the proposal and 38% voted for it, according to the Chilean Electoral Service.
The new constitution would have provided for full gender parity, added designated seats for indigenous representatives and strengthened environmental regulations.
The constitution currently in place was drafted under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the country from 1973 to 1990.
On Saturday evening before the polls opened on Sunday morning, Chilean President Gabriel Boric tweeted: “In Chile we resolve our differences with more democracy, never with less. I am deeply proud that we have come this far. »
The proposed change was initiated in 2020 when then-president Sebastien Piñera called for a referendum on the creation of a new constitution amid social unrest and popular discontent sparked by an increase in metro fares. in October 2019.
In October 2020, over 78% of Chilean voters approved a plebiscite proposing constitutional change, and in June 2021 they voted again to choose members of a constituent assembly.
The Constitutional Assembly was the first in the world to have full gender parity and the first in the country’s history to include seats reserved for indigenous representatives.
Supporters hoped his progressive stance would be reflected in a new, updated constitution.
And the constitutional process itself has been internationally hailed for giving the country an institutional way out of a social crisis and for responding to the demands of modern Chileans for greater equality and a more inclusive and participatory democracy.
After much deliberation, the final draft of the revised constitution was submitted to Piñera’s successor, the leftist Gabriel Boric, in July this year.
But although most Chilean voters supported the idea of a constitutional change in October 2020, divisions have emerged over the proposed draft.
Shortly after the draft was released, various polls began to show a growing trend of charter rejection, with the government publicly acknowledging this scenario.
The defeated constitution would be one of the most progressive in the world, giving the state a leading role in providing social rights.
The project placed a strong emphasis on indigenous self-determination and environmental protection, and would have dismantled the highly privatized system of water rights. It demands gender equality in all public institutions and enterprises and enshrines respect for sexual diversity. It also provided for a new national health system.
But the project has become bitterly divisive.
The right argued that the bill would move the country too far left, or that it was too ambitious and difficult to turn into effective laws. As the vote approached, even some of his left-wing supporters wanted adjustments, with their slogan “approve the reform”.
Footage from the country’s capital, Santiago, on Sunday showed a somber mood among supporters of the constitution, as others celebrated the news that it had been rejected.
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