Can win rejection in Chile?

Ricardo Israel

After reading more than once each article of the proposal to be plebiscitated this September 4, and studying it in relation to other countries and Chile’s own constitutional history, I no longer have any doubts. Furthermore, he had not been so certain since the 1988 plebiscite, when General Pinochet was told no.

I make it clear at the beginning that my decision is rejection, since, as in 1988, what is at stake is the type of democracy, the republican institutions, and above all the Chile that is wanted. I am convinced that the I Approve option can win, as well as the fact that one option is not the same as another to reform, since there will only be reform if it is rejected, since if the approval wins, the winners are not going to want to change anything substantial, besides that exists in the transitory dispositions, a calendar so narrow that, to make the abundant legal reforms, there is simply not going to be neither time nor opportunity in Congress.

There was study and effort behind this decision, not only because of its importance for the future, but also because, like many others, I suffered human rights violations in the past, as a person and as a family, since the coup sent my fathers. In addition, try the reform of the current Charter, including a presidential candidacy with the idea of ​​modifying the extreme centralization of the country, together with a state structure that looked more to the 1973 crisis than to the 21st century. It turned out that the consequence of the violence of 2019, and the excess of the resulting convention, was too much, as well as a bad final product.

The question is how you can win and I think that, to achieve it, you don’t have to start from scratch but you need to go back to 1988, since the rejection of that time also took place in a divided and equally polarized country. On that occasion, victory was also unlikely, and this is how some of the most prestigious political scientists and specialists in worldwide surveys concluded.

The first thing is to recapture the unity, the mystique and the pride generated by participating in that mobilization, as well as the important quotas of emotion behind it, since facts and reasons are not enough, but rather a narrative is fought against, a story that has achieved great electoral successes against reason in Latin America, one after another, including the cultural and generational change in Chile.

In the second place, clarity is crucial, and to say from now on and everywhere, how it is going to act from the next day if the rejection succeeds, which does not exist today. In that sense, I think it should be said from now on that if the rejection wins, there will be no new convention, since the mandate ends with the plebiscite, and that, therefore, the reform will once again be deposited in Congress, since applies the legality currently in force, fully republican and democratic.

For this, it is necessary that it not be kidnapped by that denaturation of democracy known as partyocracy (or partitocracy), which is when that asset that the parties are turns against their constituents, and it is the directives that replace the sovereignty of citizens, fear has accompanied me since the beginning of this process (see my column “Constituent process and partyocracy in Chile” IID, February 25, 2021)

In this regard, I believe that the parties must recover their irreplaceable role in democracy, which is institutional, and in a recently elected congress, which will need broad consensus since it is practically tied. Two things are necessary and its antecedent is found in 1988, the first has to do with absolute clarity regarding the reforms that are wanted to be made, today, the demonstration would consist of depositing in the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies deputies, the central ideas of those changes, so that the voter knows what to expect. The second would be to oppose collaboration to confrontation, postulating a Pact for Chile, which, imitating the old Coalition for Democracy, in a different Chile, shows what it wants to do. Given the governance required, today it should have a center orientation,

The foregoing is self-explanatory, adding that today -as in many other countries- there is a bad image of politics and politicians, in addition to that in Chile, the political class represented by the Piñera government and the majority of the parties represented in Congress, were also responsible for the creation of this itinerary whose result is submitted to a plebiscite, such was the bad opinion, that an overwhelming majority decided in a previous or entry plebiscite, to support the path of a new constitution and that deputies or senators did not participate in the convention. This must be weighed, since, on days of the pandemic, participation was less than half of the eligible voters, although usually only the votes of those who went to the polls are counted.

What is voted on September 4 is to approve or reject, there being no third alternative. And although the mandate was open, the proposal seeks the total refoundation of what is historically known as Chile, which is what motivates me to reject it, since it is not reformable.

Thirdly, this plebiscite is an election, and the first thing is to win it, and as in any contest of these characteristics, it is necessary to look for the votes where they are, and the truth is that today they are massively in the support received by the 4 former presidents of the Concertación (Aylwin, Frei, Lagos and Bachelet), and to achieve this, the right wing needs to make the same sacrifice as the left in 1988, that is, not to appear in the front line, since then there were sectors moderates who doubted the 100% democratic commitment of some, just as today there are sectors that distrust the will to reform, not of all right, but of the Chilean. The flag bearers should be from the native peoples, most of whom are proud of their Chilean identity.

From the moment that the true role of professional politicians begins after the victory of the rejection, the indicated commitments are necessary as well as the acceptance, which beyond what the law says in terms of the rules of the game going through the maintenance of what exists today, the political reality of the country shows the impossibility of maintaining the current constitution, no matter how much it bears the signature of President Lagos, since there is a basic issue for democratic stability, since it was never able to achieve the necessary legitimacy due to to its origin, no matter how many reforms were made to it.

Fourthly, an institutional unity of all the democratic forces is needed, starting from the electoral experience of the parties, mainly the mobilization for voting day, something key in 1988, by having a presence at every voting table, since the strength of the Chilean system, and which has allowed since the 50s of the last century to know the exact results of the entire country, within hours of the closing of the tables, is that the result has never been questioned, since more than depending on a central accounting , the system is totally manual, and the votes are counted immediately, publicly and at each table. For the same reason, it also requires that party figures not irresponsibly create distrust in relation to a system that has legitimized every result since then,

In other words, in addition to postulating consensus and agreements as basic to democracy as respect for the law and electoral results, it must be done by proclaiming the reunion with historic Chile and the failure of the convention proposal, especially all in its extremism and disqualification of everyone who thinks differently.

It is about proudly postulating the historical Chile, the Chilean nation and not separatism, proposing a true constitution and not the political-ideological program of a sector of the country, of the opposite sign, but with the same logic of Pinochetism, of thinking that a transitory situation can be imposed as definitive. The Chile to be rescued does not go through creating several nations with territorial autonomy within it, with diverse justice systems, with the end of political balances, and with the disappearance of the judicial power that is known, to give way to a system of justice intervened politically at the highest level.

That is the fight for me and no other, just like against Pinochet, that of having a democracy without surnames or experimental flaps, be it class or ethnic; that of the republic, that of Chile that emerged as a consequence of an evolution of two centuries and not of the identity construction of a proud elite. It is not, therefore, something that can be solved with other reforms. It is a transcendent decision, where the victory must be clean, and with transparency what it means must be made explicit, so as not to add more uncertainty to what already exists. with a proposal that has not explained the cost involved, and that, without adding assorted expropriations and the cost of a new institutional framework, should conservatively exceed 10% of current GDP. An expensive account that does not figure properly in the debate.

Chile, mistakenly, has proclaimed something that has hurt it, its alleged “exceptionality”, and what has happened since the violence of October 2019 as well as the massive demonstrations for greater equality, return it to Latin America to the that we belong, including the fatal arrogance that something failed elsewhere is going to work, simply because now, it would be us, the Chileans, who are trying.

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