Conservatives won an ample majority on Chile’s new Constitutional Council in elections on Sunday. The vote marks a new pendulum shift among Chile’s voters, which elected leftist Gabriel Boric to the presidency just 18 months ago, and now favor his opponent in that race, far-right candidate José Antonio Kast. (See today’s Chile Updates.)
The results also mark a shift from the progressive, independent dominated Constitutional Convention elected in 2021, which drafted a magna carta rejected by voters last September. Boric called on those who won the election Sunday to “not make the same mistake we did … in believing that pendulums are permanent.”
The far-right Partido Republicano won 35% of the vote, This translates to 23 of 50 seats, which grants veto power to the party, led by Kast, a Pinochet-admirer . Traditional right-wing parties, gathered as the Chile Seguro alliance obtained a further 21% support, 11 seats.
The Unidad para Chile alliance representing the governing progressive administration obtained 16 seats, and came in second in number of votes, 29%. The results are a heavy blow to Boric, who won a runoff vote against Kast in 2021.
The vote is a strong repudiation of traditional leftist parties — gathered under the Todo por Chile list, which included prominent politicians from previous progressive governments and that failed to obtain a single seat on the new council.
The Partido de la Gente list, representing political outsiders, also failed to obtain a single seat, an indication that the anti-establishment sentiment that propelled the drive to rewrite the constitution in 2019 has not been satisfied with the eclectic mix of independent personalities who drafted the constitution rejected last year.
(Servicio Electoral de Chile, Associated Press)
About 20% of votes were blank or nullified. Participation in Sunday’s election was mandatory, and about 80 percent eligible voters participated. The 50 member council will be working off a preliminary draft written by 24 legal experts appointed by Congress, which started work in March. The Council will begin work next month. (Associated Press)
Chileans have tired of the constitutional issue — according to polls, only 31 percent of Chileans are interested in the process of writing a new constitution. (AFP)
Sunday’s results raise the specter of a magna carta that echos the dictatorship-era document that activists sought to replace — albeit without the taint of being written under General Augusto Pinochet. If so, it might be rejected by voters in a referendum at the end of the year, prolonging political instability in Chile, reports the Guardian.
It’s too soon to see what approach the Council will take, though some analysts predict the right will make some moves to appease voters on areas like expanded social rights, consumer protections and Indigenous recognitions, reports Reuters.
Indeed, purely for electoral reasons, the Partido Republicano has incentive to avoid the political failure of a rejected constitution, argues the Latin America Risk Report.
(See today’s Chile Updates for more perspectives on what Sunday’s vote means for Chilean politics.)
Chile’s vote, strongly centered on current policy issues, also forms part of a growing regional concern with public security, notes Brian Winter in America Quarterly. “If corruption was the big issue that turned Latin American politics upside down in the 2010s, violent crime may play the same role in the 2020s in many countries.”
Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned a pair of electoral law reforms, backed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, because Congress rushed them through to a vote without debate, or even time to read them. The laws struck down involved electoral rules limiting partisan activity by politicians who hold public offices, reports the Associated Press.
AMLO will speak with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, today in a phone call focused on migration and fentanyl. (Reuters, See yesterday’s post)
The U.S. government and the state of Texas are sending reinforcements to the U.S.-Mexico border, ahead of a potential surge in migrant crossings when a Covid-19 policy is set to end on Thursday, reports Reuters. (See yesterday’s post.)
“We do need to be talking about the psychological warfare that is presently raging on the U.S. border. The willful arbitrariness, ambiguity and chaos that emanates from the U.S. asylum and migratory apparatus – all of which unfolds against a backdrop of omnipresent danger – does wonders in terms of eroding the morale of the “enemy”, i.e. the impoverished refuge seeker,” writes Belén Fernández at Al Jazeera.
Hundreds of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, fleeing harsher immigration protocols and growing xenophobia in Chile are trying to cross to Peru, which has militarized its border — turning the area “into a sprawling refugee camp,” reports the Guardian.
Ecuador's government is deploying soldiers and police in nine provinces to combat illegal mining, reports Reuters. Earlier this year, President Guillermo Lasso declared illegal mining a threat to national security, linking the practice to organized crime.
Tech giants — including Google, Facebook and Tiktok — campaigned strongly against a bill backed by Brazil’s Lula administration, which would require them to detect and take down illegal content, posing heavy fines if they don’t. The tech platforms allied with pro-Bolsonaro influencers, in a fake news campaign led by the same people who sought to subvert election results last year, writes Natalia Viana, of Agência Pública, in the Guardian.
Several mega-projects planned in Brazil would be devastating for the environment, and would seriously dent President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s green credentials, if they proceed, reports the Associated Press.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he will lay out the need to defend Ukraine in the war with Russia today when he meets Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva — Reuters.
Chile’s state oil company National Petroleum Company signed a temporary agreement with Argentine oil firm YPF to import crude through the Trasandino pipeline, a key step for both countries' trade, reports Reuters.
A former Colombian paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC,) who laid down their arms 20 years ago have asked Colombia's Petro administration to reopen peace talks with them. (AFP)
Frogs in Puerto Rico are croaking at a higher pitch due to global warming — Guardian
amazing! thank you for all your hard work