Chilean voters are preparing to elect the country’s constitutional legislators
Chile will vote this weekend on the lawmakers who will draft its new constitution, and the country’s center-right government will fight to hold on to power before the November presidential election.
Government, mayor and municipal polls delayed by the pandemic will also be held on Saturday and Sunday, along with elections to form a constitutional assembly.
Chile has not been saved from the second wave of coronavirus in Latin America despite the highest vaccination rates in the region. Confirmed infections hit an all-time high last month, though the numbers have dropped since then.
“Chile is doing many unprecedented things at once. . . In the midst of the economic and health crisis caused by Covid-19, ”said political scientist Robert Funk.
In the most important vote, additional members will be elected to rewrite the constitution created by General Augusto Pinochet during the 1973-90 dictatorship, which most Chileans consider illegal.
Nearly four-fourths of voters voted in favor of constitutional reform in a November referendum.
“These elections will likely define Chile’s institutional trajectory in the coming decades,” said Gloria de la Fuente of Chile’s transparency council. “The vote will have a profound effect on Chile’s political system and civil society. . . selection of authorities to advance the country’s agenda “.
However, turnover is projected to be lower than the referendum. 58% of Chileans who took part in the last Ipsos poll said it was a pandemic and that they had fewer chances to vote, and that less than half knew they would vote for four different positions.
Chile has become one of the richest nations in Latin America in recent decades, although the profound inequality that caused widespread social unrest in 2019 has not been resolved.
Since those demonstrations, the low grades approved by President Sebastián Piñera have increased in Congress with the failures of his government, especially with pension reform.
Although the left-wing coalition that has dominated Chile for the past 30 years has been disbanded since Piñera returned to power in 2018, its unpopularity may allow the left and center-left to secure a two-thirds majority in the constituent assembly. of the new document.
“If the right gets more than 30 percent [in the assembly], it will be a tremendous victory, ”said sociologist Lucia Dammert of the University of Santiago.
Although the spread of vaccines has been quite successful, Chile has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. Last summer it averaged an average of 352 cases per week last week, reaching 383. Since then, the number of cases has returned to about 280 cases per million.
However, the Piñera government has been able to offer more generous subsidies related to Covid than most other countries in the region.
Dammer said the feature of this weekend’s polls was the appearance of independent candidates. However, while the traditional party was hurt by political unrest, it would be an “upward struggle” to recognize independents, he said.
There are also wildcards like Pablo Maltes — the populist hopeful husband of President Pamela Jiles — who is running for governor of the metropolitan region of the capital Santiago.
“If the Maltese win, there is definitely something going on with Jiles,” said Funk, who suggested he was a strong presidential candidate.
Jiles, who has championed measures to raise funds for Chile’s wonderful private pension system, is one of the hopes for the presidency, as not a single candidate from the right or left is clear.
Electoral reform under Michelle Bachelet’s previous left-wing government means increased proportional representation that Chileans will also for the first time elect regional governors traditionally in a country where Santiago lives. The election will also renew nearly a third of local authorities.