Chile set to hold national plebiscite

Chile will hold a nationwide plebiscite today. Chileans will vote on two issues: whether to draft a new constitution and,

Chile plebiscite

Photo: Martin Bernetti/ AFP

Chile will hold a nationwide plebiscite today.

Chileans will vote on two issues: whether to draft a new constitution and, if yes, whether the convention to write the new document should be formed of constituents or a mix of representatives and citizens. Recent polls show that 69% of Chileans are in favour of a new constitution and 61% favour a constituent convention.

The plebiscite is a response to last year’s protests that was sparked by a 4% metro fare hike. Chile’s current constitution has been in place since the autocratic Augusto Pinochet regime. It is both credited for Chile’s stable economic growth over the last forty years and blamed for causing the country to have the highest level of income inequality in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

If Chile votes to draft a new constitution, expect it to mandate the government to expand a social safety net that will benefit low- and middle-income Chileans, whose median monthly salaries of $538 barely cover living expenses. However, it is unlikely that the changes in the new constitution will be enough to close the income inequality gap without long-term structural changes. In the medium term, the shift from the current model could lead to a decline in foreign investment and economic instability in the country.

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