THE constitutions that govern the legal framework of the various nations of the world are not immutable texts. Times change and, from time to time, it is necessary to update the text and adapt it, in some way, to the needs that mark the new times. Resistance to the updating of the constitution, texts which, by their very nature, were born of a broad consensus among the political agents initially involved, is still strong in many countries, because it is sometimes verified that the modifications proposed do not respond to a request from citizens, but to fallacious interests. Constitutions themselves usually include the articles that make this task possible, and over the past decade there has been increasing talk of the need to update the Philippine Constitution so that, for example, the foreign investment is facilitated, competitiveness is encouraged, and the quality of jobs on offer increases.
From time to time, we must look at what is happening in other countries not so much to imitate them as to learn from their mistakes. In this case, I will talk very briefly about what happened recently in Chile. Anyone familiar with South American affairs knows that Chile is the most prosperous country in the region, with a per capita income of $16,000 and a GDP of $317.06 billion (World Bank data). In 1987, 75% of Chileans had less than 10 dollars a day; in 2020, only 20% of Chileans live on less than 10 dollars and extreme poverty is residual. The market economy has produced inequalities, but nothing that would justify the brutality of the social protests that hit Chile between October 2019 and March 2020, with many deaths, great damage to public assets and a great impact on the economy .
The main reason alleged for the opening of the constituent process was that the current constitution had been created by the authoritarian dictator Augusto Pinochet and that, therefore, it was an anomaly inherited from the dictatorship which had to be abandoned in times of democracy. However, it is rarely mentioned that this constitution was reformed 60 times and 257 articles were transformed from 1989 to April 2022. Although the constitution emerged under the rule of such a detestable figure, the truth is that thanks to it and its reforms, the Chilean economy and its citizens have enjoyed a prosperity that has been the envy of all of South America for three decades.
If the inequality was motivated by the existence of this constitution, it would suffice to change the culpable laws or introduce some legal reforms. But the objective of the promoters of the constituent process—like the one Petro announced in Colombia—is not that. On the contrary, the reset, to start from scratch, is a strategy of the radical left to seize all the springs of power.
The resulting draft 2022 constitution was rejected by nearly 62% of Chilean voters in a nationwide plebiscite on September 4.
A reading of the rejected constitution undoubtedly indicates that it was drafted by radical leftists, statists and academics with a “woke” mentality. Let’s see:
“1. Chile is a social and democratic State of law. It is multinational, intercultural, regional and ecological. 2. It is constituted as a united republic. Its democracy is inclusive and equal. It recognizes the dignity, freedom, real equality of human beings and their indissoluble relationship with nature as intrinsic and inalienable values.” Should a reference to the indissoluble relationship with nature be included?
“Article 185.1. All natural and legal persons must contribute to the support of public expenditure by paying the taxes, fees and contributions authorized by law. The tax system is based on the principles of equality, progressiveness, solidarity and justice material, which, in no case, will have a confiscatory scope. Its objectives will be to reduce inequalities and poverty”.
But in the sixth paragraph of this same article, it is specified: “The plebiscite and the referendum in fiscal matters will not take place. In other words, if the people who have the power to approve new taxes on the citizens decided, for example, to invent an excessively heavy tax, the citizens would have no democratic means of abolishing it. They call themselves very democratic, but maybe not so much.
“Article 241.1: The State promotes the integral development of rural territories and recognizes rurality as a territorial expression where forms of life and production develop around the direct relationship of people and communities with land, water and the sea.” This means that a Silicon Valley could not be launched in rurality, which must remain rural and bucolic.
The constitution consists of 157 pages and 388 articles, each with its corresponding sections. Constitutions, by definition, are legal frameworks that should not be biased towards any ideology. They should be as neutral as possible and, above all, limit the power of the state over citizens. In other words, it is an instrument to protect citizens from their leaders, especially if they claim to have the best intentions in the world. The rejected constitution was therefore drafted with the aim of muzzling the Chilean legal framework and forcing it to assume all the well-meaning premises of the radical left. This would mean that if, for example, a party promoting free markets and low taxes were to win elections in the future, it would have extraordinarily little leeway to carry out its proposals. He should propose, first of all, constitutional changes which should then be approved by referendum…
If approved, “taxes would have skyrocketed, the country’s private pension system would have been gutted, and sweeping action to address climate change would have become a constitutional duty of the state”, as stated John Fund for National Review. My opinion is that the three measures could perfectly well be part of a country’s legal system, but not of the constitution itself. Very interesting is Tim Padgett’s interpretation for WLRN: “The vote to retain the Pinochet-era Chilean constitution was not a vote to retain Pinochet. It was a vote to block the leftist hype exploited by Pinochet. ” It seems that the Chileans ask for moderation.
The resounding rejection of the new constitution would be great news if Boric and his associates—among them, the Communist Party of Chile—don’t give up and come up with a new constitution, probably crafted with the same intentions, but drafted in a more moderate way. We will have to wait for the next events.