Is Chile’s draft constitution undemocratic—or too democratic?

By Ari Paul, FAIR

Chileans will vote in September on whether to approve a new constitution that promises to address inequality and lack of democracy (Reuters7/4/22). It would replace the present constitution imposed by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who came into power through a US-backed coup in 1973. The nation’s newly elected left-wing leadership is calling for a “yes” vote, although in the much-divided country, the constitution faces steep opposition from the right.

Man dressed in red and yellow carries the Chilean flag down the street

US and Western editorialists are also pushing for a no vote. Opposition to the constitution’s economic changes should be expected; of course conservative and corporate centrist outlets will be against a proposed constitution that would make way for economic regulation and nationalization. But the idea being pushed that a democratic process to upgrade the national framework from one designed under despotism is against “democracy” is both Orwellian and an effective propaganda tool against popular progress.

Wall Street Journal op-ed (7/27/22), penned by Axel Kaiser of the right-wing Atlas Center, complained that the proposed constitution “could destroy Chile’s economy, democracy and integrity as a nation.” Exhibit A was “a new entity, the Council of Justice, to evaluate judges’ performance and decide whether they can remain on the bench”—thereby paving the way for a “dictatorial regime.” Given that unaccountable judges in the United States are stripping citizens of basic human rights, some US readers might be more sympathetic to the introduction of a check on judicial power.

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