Conservatives Win Control Of Major Country’s Constitutional Convention

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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Conservative parties in Chile have won a majority in elections to the nation’s new constitutional convention, delivering a blow to President Gabriel Boric’s attempts to rewrite the constitution along left-wing lines.

The election, held on Monday, is the latest in a process that began in 2019 after massive protests in the country against the high cost of living, which many see as resulting from Chile’s current constitution that was promulgated during the U.S.-backed regime of Augusto Pinochet, according to Al Jazeera. A previous constitutional convention, dominated by Boric’s left-wing coalition, proposed a draft constitution in 2022, which was rejected in a referendum by a two-thirds majority. (RELATED: Chile Rejects Leftist Constitution In National Vote By Wide Margin)

The constitutional convention, which will begin work in June, will have five months to propose a new constitution that will be put to another referendum in December, per the BBC.

The Republican Party, a right-wing party with an emphasis on social issues, won 22 out of 51 seats in the convention. The party, led by Boric’s 2022 presidential challenger Jose Antonio Kast, believes that life begins at conception and opposes abortion, supports a free market economy and wants to curb immigration from other Latin American countries like Bolivia, according to the Library of Congress of Chile. 

They were joined by Chile Seguro, a center-right conservative party, which won 11 seats. Together, Chile Seguro and the Republican Party give Chile’s right-wing parties a majority of 33 out of 51 seats, a marked shift from the last composition where they were in the minority to socialist parties who, in a new coalition named “United for Chile,” won 17 seats.

“Today we vote for Chile and for peace, prosperity and progress for all Chileans,” wrote Kast on Twitter. After the vote, he said that “the ideas of common sense have triumphed,” according to the BBC.

Boric has not released a statement on the vote.

That the Chilean right has been elected to lead a process of constitutional reform begun by the Chilean left, which led the protests in 2019 for such a convention, places the whole effort in jeopardy, according to some observers.

“This is an earthquake in Chilean politics,” wrote Chilean journalist Rocío Montes in El Pais, a Spanish-language newspaper. “It is possible that the conservatives could abandon the constitutional reform process, though it won’t be easy,” said Angelo Rivero Santos, interim director of Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies, to the Daily Caller News Foundation, adding that conservatives were in a strong position to win the next presidential election.

“This newly-elected convention will keep and expand the strong guardrails for private property and economic freedom,” wrote Daniel Di Martino, a Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and founder of The Dissident Project, which sends dissidents from authoritarian countries to speak at U.S. schools, to the Daily Caller News Foundation, adding that “they won’t pass any reform that ends Chile’s exemplary private health, education, and pensions system.”

“It’s not a good choice for the left, and it’s the best scenario possible for the Chilean right,” Di Martino said.

The Embassy of Chile in Washington, D.C. did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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