1675443354 Chile is using a commission of experts for the second

Chile is using a commission of experts for the second time to write a new constitution

A group of Chileans opposed to the September 2022 reform of the Chilean constitution celebrate in the streets following its rejection in the elections.A group of Chileans opposed to the September 2022 reform of the Chilean constitution celebrate in the streets following its rejection in the elections.ELVIS GONZÁLEZ (EFE)

It has equal representation, 21 of its 24 members are lawyers, their ages range from 36 to 75, and 17 were born after the 1973 military coup. This is the commission of experts that between March and June will prepare the preliminary draft of the new Chilean Constitution. The group, designated by the political parties with parliamentary representation and ratified by Congress a few days ago, will present a basic text that will be worked on by the Constitutional Council, a body that will be elected on May 7 and that will write the constitution that it will be put to the vote on May 17th. December.

This is Chile’s second attempt in less than four years to amend the 1980 Magna Carta, written during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. This is after 62% of citizens rejected the Constitutional Convention’s proposal on September 4, 2022. The Constitutional Council, made up of 25 women and 25 men, will be installed on June 7 and will have five months to work. The deadline for registering candidatures is Monday 6 February.

The expert commission, in which just over half of its members rejected the 2022 proposal, is part of the political agreement that has made this new constitutional phase possible. “This is a group that represents the various political forces in Congress and particularly in the Senate. What was sought by the political parties, which are the main players in this constituent process, was the support of experts who could outline certain contours of the constitutional text,” says Pamela Figueroa, political scientist and academic at the University of Santiago.

Figueroa alludes to the previous process in which the majority of the constitutional convention were left-wing independents, with no political militancy. “This is another draft that was developed after a constitutional text was rejected. Looking at comparative experiences, the role of the experts is diverse. Sometimes they write the text, sometimes they support it. It seems to me that Chile’s institutional design reflects a diagnosis by the political elite that the rejection in last year’s referendum was due to the text not meeting certain standards.

Gabriel Osorio, 39, a socialist lawyer and part of the Group of 24, explains: “There are different political and constitutional visions here, and each has its own idea of ​​what a constitution should be. There is a negotiation process ahead in which we all have to give up certain aspects. What is important is not only what the Commission proposes, but what the Constitutional Council will define, which has the key to adopting a text proposal for a referendum and not us. In football jargon, what is expected of a game is what the experts will do, but then the players, the Constitutional Council, will determine how the new constitution will be structured.”

Sebastián Soto, 45, an independent lawyer appointed by the right, agrees: “The role of experts does not replace those elected, but is only intended to facilitate their work. My impression is that at the congress a lot of time was spent on writing and little on deliberation. And the fact that a bill is on the table makes the deliberations of the Constitutional Council easier.”

Three former ministers from Piñera and one from Bachelet

The appointment of the commission of experts had to be laboriously negotiated in Congress, where the Chamber of Deputies ratified 12 members and the Senate ratified another 12. Among the 21 lawyers are a dozen constitutional lawyers or public law specialists. There is also an economist, a journalist and a sociologist, Alexis Cortés, 39, the only communist on the panel.

The group nominated by right-wing parties includes three former ministers in former President Sebastián Piñera’s government: Hernán Larraín (75), Teodoro Ribera (64) and Juan José Ossa (42), as well as two former secretaries of state. One of them is Máximo Pavez (39). “The memory of an entity rejected by the Chileans is so fresh and fundamentally rejected because of the tone and behavior of the Convention that I think everyone on this commission feels an obligation to contribute to the nature of the conversation,” he says.

The group on the right also includes the economist Bettina Horst (52) and the lawyer Natalia González (45). Both are part of Libertad y Desarrollo, a conservative think tank.

Of the 24 members of this commission, 17 are between 36 and 47 years old. That is, they were born after the military coup. Hernán Larraín, who was also a senator, is the oldest in the group at 75 years old. The youngest, 36, are lawyer and academic Catalina Salem, a right-wing independent from Renovación Nacional, and socialist Flavio Quezada.

“On the right, an option was created for people with a more political background, such as former ministers of state,” says Pamela Figueroa. “It’s more diverse in the center left. There are academics and generally younger people. They are people who also have different ideas about the constitutional process. It’s a diverse group responding to what Congress and political parties envision this new attempt at a constitution should look like,” he adds.

This centre-left party includes everything from the Communist Party to the Christian Democrats. This latest group, which for the past year has been split between approving and opposing the new constitution, has two experts: former Bachelet government minister Alejandra Krauss and lawyer Paz Anastasiadis.

In the expert group there are only two members of the Broad Front, a conglomerate that President Gabriel Boric belongs to. They are the lawyers Antonia Rivas and Domingo Lovera. In the previous trial, Rivas was an advisor to the conventional Tiare Aguilera of the Rapanui people.

dialogue and negotiation

Within the Commission, the standards must be adopted with a quorum of three-fifths. It’s not the highest, but it will necessarily require agreements. “The heterogeneity of the group and its visions and experiences will enrich the dialogue,” says Flavio Quezada.

Paz Anastasiadis, lawyer and Commissioner for Christian Democracy, explains that the composition of the group representing the political forces in Congress “enforces dialogue and agreements, creates a favorable scenario to be able to have representative norms for different sectors, maximalisms to avoid identity desires or political prejudices. And that seems healthy and necessary to me and marks an immediate difference from the previous process.”

Sebastián Soto from the right says that the beginning phase should be understood as “a second chance after a significant failure”. And that the new process “must be combined with common sense, must completely abandon the founding spirit that characterized the old process, must seek to unite rather than divide, and must be a consensus constitution that does not seek to solve all problems Because constitutions don’t have that ability.” “.

Osorio points out that the process should not repeat the experience of programmatic constitutions, “like the current 1980 constitution, which has an authoritarian and very neoliberal matrix. The proposal of the constitutional convention was very divided, identitarian and also very programmatic.”

The most recent Center for Public Studies (CEP) poll on January 4 asked for the top two reasons for the rejection in the September 2022 referendum. The first answer was “because of the way they work and the electorate. The second alluded to the fact that the proposed constitution “would create divisions among Chileans.”

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