Swing to the right as Chile to re-write constitution

Far right politicians from Chile’s Republican Party will dominate the country’s constitutional council after elections on Sunday.

The Republican party led by Jose Antonio Kast, won 22 out of 50 seats on the council, which will draft a new constitution.

The party has long opposed changing the constitution that was imposed by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, centre, after casting his vote in Punta Arenas, Chile, Sunday, May 7, 2023.

It was a major defeat for Chile’s centre-left president, Gabriel Boric, with the vote also widely viewed as a referendum on his government, which currently has an approval rating of around 30%.

A coalition of left-leaning parties allied with Boric, Unity for Chile was in second place with 28% of the vote. A centre-right alliance, Safe Chile, was in third with 21%. Null or blank votes made up 21% of the total.

If the two right-of-centre groups, the Republicans and Safe Chile, unite it could leave Boric’s allies with very little room to influence the final text. The preliminary count suggested left-leaning coalitions would not reach the 21 seats necessary to veto proposals or force consensus on certain issues.

Republican party members celebrate obtaining the largest number of representatives after the election for the Constitutional Council, Santiago, Chile. May 7, 2023

Sunday’s vote marked a key step in the effort to come up with a new proposal for a constitution after 62% of voters rejected the previous proposed charter in September. It had been the first in the world to be written by a convention split equally between male and female delegates.

Critics said the document was too long, lacked clarity and went too far in some of its measures, which included characterising Chile as a plurinational state, establishing autonomous Indigenous territories, and prioritising the environment and gender parity.

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