Last year, hundreds of town hall meetings, known as “cabildos,” came across Chile. Organized by social movements, universities, local communities and others, they covered everything from the cost of living to indigenous rights to Chile`s democratic systems, and offered citizens the opportunity to discuss solutions. b) What kind of institution should the new Constitution develop? A mixed constitutional convention or a constitutional convention. Considered by some to be a more semantic than substantive issue, the agreement does not speak of a constituent assembly; Instead, it proposes a referendum to be held in April 2020, which consists of two options: a “constituent agreement” and a “mixed agreement”. The latter corresponds to a mixture of current and specially elected delegates, while the former would only include new delegates. In addition, these delegates are elected with the same mechanisms as those used today for MPs, giving political parties the highest priority over grassroots leaders. Perhaps the 2/3 capacity of approval is set for each article discussed in this process, and yet the signatories said that the Convention would work on an empty slate, which means that there will be no return to the 1980 Constitution – the fact is that no explicit statement on this was left in the writing. Finally, an ad hoc committee appointed by the current Parliament will define other important aspects of the process. Economists in the Western world have followed with concern the recent challenges Chile has posed to its model and its constitution. In July, Congress voted to allow citizens to withdraw money from their private pension systems to help families cope with the economic crisis caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. The pension system, one of Pinochet`s most important reforms and the first in the world to be privatized, is seen as an important driver of Chile`s economic growth over the past forty years and has been protected from reforms in Chile`s rigid political system, despite its anger at its failures to protect low-income and informal workers. The Financial Times reported that The Congress` move “could send a worrying signal to investors who fear populism will take root” before the referendum.
After Pinochet took over Chile in 1973 and overthrew socialist President Salvador Allende in a military coup, the dictator began reforming Chile`s economy. According to a set of principles developed by a group of U.S.-educated economists – included in a political book called “The Brick,” Pinochet`s government has significantly reduced the role of the state, cut public housing, education and social security budgets, and sold state-owned enterprises. The dictatorship ended in 1990, after 56% of Chileans voted in favour of democratic transition in a referendum. While many changes have been made over the years, notably by the governments of Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet, the underlying Constitution has remained corrupt and illegitimate in the eyes of many Chileans. Moreover, over the past 30 years, the Constitution has played an important role in the creation of political elites that have remained in power and prevented political reforms from keeping pace with societal changes and expectations.