President Gabriel Boric, expressing concern about a recent drop in public support for Chile’s new constitution, has called for broader agreements and for confronting doubts on the new charter head-on.
Recent poll data showing the population’s growing mistrust in the Constitutional Convention are a “wake-up call,” Boric told reporters on Tuesday while on official visit in Argentina. He added that he knows people who initially backed a new charter in the 2020 referendum and now have doubts about the process.
“We are worried,” Boric told reporters. “We want to bring people together, we want to convince. We all have a role to play and, of course we’ll do it.”
His comments come after a survey published this week showed more people willing to reject rather than approve a new charter for the first time. The Constitutional Convention, which has until July to produce a draft, has drawn criticism over radical proposals on topics including property rights and the environment. Boric has consistently backed the institution and its autonomy.
The Chilean government confirmed this week that citizens will vote in a mandatory referendum on September 4 to approve or reject the new constitution, which is meant to replace the one enacted in 1980 by the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The country is going through profound change since an anti-inequality social uprising in 2019 that left dozens dead, rocking the economy and political establishment. Boric was among those who backed the demonstrations and he has vowed to undo Chile's constitutionally protected neo-liberal economic model, which is credited with the country's relative wealth but blamed for its deep-rooted social inequality.
The 2019 protests led to a referendum in 2020 in which Chileans voted overwhelmingly in favour or changing the constitution.
This led to elections in May 2021 for 155 members of the Constitutional Convention tasked with drafting a new founding law. The largely left-leaning elected body started work on the text in July last year.
On Tuesday, Boric's government said Chileans will vote on the new constitution on September 4.
The date is symbolic in Chile: it was the traditional date for presidential elections until the coup d'état that ousted socialist leader Salvador Allende in 1973 and introduced nearly two decades of brutal dictatorship.
Some 15 million eligible voters will have two months to weigh the proposed text before making their mark in September, the government said.