LatinNews Daily - 30 May 2022

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CHILE: Boric under fire as he launches constitutional campaign

On 28 May Chile’s President Gabriel Boric launched a campaign to encourage his fellow citizens to vote in the constitutional referendum scheduled for 4 September.

Analysis:

Boric said his government would fulfil its duty to inform citizens of the constitutional options, noting that approving or rejecting the text currently being finalised by the constitutional convention (CC) were both “valid and legitimate options”. Despite this, right wing opposition parties including Renovación Nacional (RN) and Partido Republicano (PLR) have accused the President of favouring the approval vote, a claim rejected by Giorgio Jackson, secretary general of the presidency, who insisted that government campaign, entitled ‘Let’s Make History’, was merely intended to ensure they will make an informed choice.

  • The constitutional reform process comes at a time when, less than three months after being sworn in, Boric is politically on the defensive. A new poll by Cadem shows 57% of respondents now disapprove of Boric’s performance, up from 20% when he took office. His approval rate, which was 50% in March has now dwindled to 36%. Boric had particularly high disapproval rates for his handling of public order, migration, crime, and the Mapuche conflict in the south of the country.
  • As far as the new constitution is concerned, the public continues to show a notable lack of enthusiasm. According to the survey, the “reject” vote remains the largest with 45% support, while 37% of the electorate intends to vote “approve”. The numbers suggest there is now a significant hard core of opposition to constitutional change, with 30% saying the draft should be rejected and replaced by an entirely new constitution-writing procedure.
  • The 154 CC delegates still have work to do on the draft, which currently consists of 499 articles distributed in 11 chapters and threatens to be one of the longest constitutional texts in the world. A process of editing and eliminating any internal contradictions is needed, as well as decisions on the preamble, on the consultation rights enjoyed by indigenous communities, on transitional clauses, and on the procedures for future constitutional reforms.

Looking Ahead: While Boric has attempted to draw a line between the business of government, on the one hand, and the drafting of a new constitution on the other, it is clear that rejection of the new constitutional draft in September's referendum would be a major setback for his presidency.

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