Chile contemplates new paths for constitutional reform

chile constitutional reform
Photo: Cámara de Diputados de Chile

In Chile, a new bill to reduce the quorum needed to amend the constitution in Congress from two-thirds of representatives to just four-sevenths is rapidly moving forward with government support.

This would indicate that President Gabriel Boric, a fierce defender of the constituent process which recently delivered a new draft constitution, is showing a more flexible approach to reforming the country’s current charter.

The bill opens up new avenues to changing the dictatorship-era constitution, just as pollsters show that a majority of Chileans are likely to vote ‘no’ to the draft text presented last month by the Constitutional Assembly.

According to pollster Cadem, only 37 percent of Chileans are leaning towards approving the current constitutional draft in the September 4 exit referendum, with 47 percent leaning towards rejecting it.

President Boric has already floated the possibility of voting for a new Constitutional Assembly and re-starting the constituent reform process from scratch should the draft be rejected in the plebiscite.

Opting instead to make only partial changes to the current text via congressional amendments could be seen as a bigger concession, since previous center-left and center-right governments already tweaked the country’s magna carta in different ways since the return of democracy to Chile in 1990.