Overwhelming support in Chile for the drafting of a new Magna Carta, with almost all votes counted

The new Chilean constitution will be drawn up by a joint group of men and women elected by the people

“A triumph of citizenship and democracy.”

This is how the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, described what happened this Sunday in his country, where, with almost 100% of the votes counted, the citizens decided by a resounding 7 8 % to replace the current Constitution , drawn up during the military regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

In the first of the two questions raised in the plebiscite, “Do you want a New Constitution?”, The Approval won by 5,874,085 votes (78.28%) compared to 1,630,150 votes (21.72%) of the Rejection.

In the second question, “What type of body should draft the New Constitution?”, The Chileans opted for a “constitutional convention” ; that is, a group of popularly elected men and women.

Regarding voting abroad, support for the drafting of a new Magna Carta exceeded 85% with more than 75% of the votes counted.

The participation was greater than 50%.

Sebastián Piñera spoke from the Palacio de la; Moneda
President Sebastián Piñera stressed the importance of this Sunday’s vote.

“Today we have once again demonstrated the democratic, participatory and peaceful nature of the Chilean spirit and the soul of the nations, honoring our tradition of republic,” said Piñera.

“This plebiscite is not the end. It is the beginning of a path that we will have to travel together to agree on a New Constitution for Chile, “he added.

“Until now the Constitution has divided us. Starting today, we must all collaborate so that the New Constitution is the great framework for unity, stability and the future, “he added.

Historic moment

Calling what happened this Sunday in Chile historical is not a cliché: it is the first time in the country’s history that the Constitution will be drafted by a fully elected assembly.

The importance of the moment was also perceived in the reaction of the citizens, who took to the streets in Santiago, Valparaíso and other cities to celebrate the result.

Celebrations in Santiago, Chile
Crowds of people took to the streets of various Chilean cities to celebrate the result of the plebiscite.

The emblematic Plaza Italia, in the Chilean capital, broke into a thunderous applause, followed by caceroladas, fireworks, beeps and batucadas.

On the Telefónica building, the tallest in the area, the message “Renace” was projected , in a nod to what symbolically burying the legal framework of the regime means.

The impact of the pandemic

The plebiscite, originally scheduled for April 26 but postponed due to the pandemic, was carried out observing a special health protocol , with a specific schedule for people over 60 years of age and the mandatory use of masks.

People infected with coronavirus could not participate in the process because the measures that would have allowed them to vote without breaking the quarantine could not be implemented.

Close-up of a vote in favor of Approval in the National Plebiscite of Chile
Participation in the plebiscite exceeded 50%.

The change of the Constitution was one of the demands made after the social outbreak of October 2019, which gave rise to the most massive demonstrations since the return of democracy in 1990, and triggered episodes of violence that resulted in the death of more than 30 people and 2,250 complaints of violation of human rights.

Its realization was the result of a broad agreement signed in that context in Congress on the tense morning of November 15 of last year.

What happens now?

The country must return to the polls on April 11, 2021 to directly elect the members of the constituent convention.

They will elect 155 members divided equally between men and women , with a number of seats reserved for indigenous peoples.

The convention that drafts the new Magna Carta will be constituted in May 2021.

Celebration in Valparaíso, Chile
The celebrations of those who want a new Constitution began as soon as the first results indicated the clear victory of the “Approve”.

The final text will then be submitted for ratification by the people in what has been called the “exit plebiscite” or ratification, which will be by mandatory vote to be held in the second half of 2022.

Observers point out that for these later stages it must be guaranteed that all citizens can exercise the right to vote, whether they are infected with covid or not.

If approved in the final referendum, the new Basic Law will take effect immediately, automatically repealing the previous one.


This is not only the first time in the history of Chile that citizens are called to vote whether or not they want to change a Constitution; it also marks a milestone by being a Magna Carta whose drafting will be left to a collegiate group directly elected by popular vote.

Aerial view of Plaza Italia in Santiago de Chile
The day took place without major incidents and in observance of precautionary measures for the coronavirus.

This constituent body will have the task of drafting the text that will replace the 1980 Constitution, which a large part of society considers illegitimate

Among the main issues that the constituent body will address are inequality and social reforms , claims of the past protests that were the trigger for this plebiscite to be held.

Although it will work on a “blank sheet”, only the standards approved by 2/3 of the constituent members will be included.

Analysts interviewed by the BBC agree that the new Constitution will not solve all the problems, but it would be a very important first step in restoring a social balance in Chile.

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