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Risk factors for upcoming elections in Chile | Election Issues


Santiago, Chile – On a hot day in the Chilean capital, a group of neighbors in La Reina, in the eastern part of Santiago, gathered to support their opponents in the Constitutional Convention, just days before the country’s most important election. In good spirits, he waved the flag, laughed and greeted each other with a hug. She wears masks and shares an alcohol gel.

Renato Garrido, one of the nominees, urged voters to vote, saying: “The new constitution is the only way for our country to participate, justice, real freedom and growth. Citizens will be able to understand, respect and be tolerant of all opinions. We have to do this out of love for Chile. ”

On May 15 and 16, Chileans go to the polls to elect 155 members of the Constitutional Convention. The aim is to draft new legislation to be submitted to the referendum in 2022. After a long struggle, current laws – drafted in the 80s under the auspices of the dictator Pinochet and amended years ago – will be set aside.

More than 1,300 have contested to become members of the Constitutional Convention. For the first time, the elections incorporate gender equality – providing women with adequate seats, and include 17 Indian reserves.

Followers of the Constitutional Convention at the Plaza Egaña metro station, in Santiago, Chile [Odette Magnet/Al Jazeera]

Election experts fear that the people will not be able to vote in large numbers – not just because of the epidemic but because the government has released more information.

“No government or government has realized that a section of the population does not know that elections will take place this week,” Marta Lagos, director of Mori Chile, a popular voting company, said on international television.

Chilean voters will also elect city officials, ambassadors and city councilors. Presidential election is scheduled for November.

The electoral calendar will take place as the country endures difficult times: an emergency, late-night shift, more than 10 percent of the workforce (2.5 million people), and an epidemic that has killed at least 27,000 people. The polls were pre-planned in April but were postponed due to the high number of people with coronavirus infection.

Health officials are insisting that Chileans be able to vote in a safe place because cases have dropped in recent weeks, because in some way Chile has been a successful vaccine.

More than seven million people have already received their double shot (47% of “following people”). But the threat did not end there – about 40% of the country still survived.

According to Javiera Parada’s cultural adviser, what is at stake in the forthcoming elections is “our political alliance – which will allow us to reconcile and re-establish our institutions and legitimacy.

“Chile needs to make laws that invite us all. This is important if we want to get back on track with sustainable development. People are aware that changing the law is not enough, but that it is important for the country to have organizations that serve our time and our new organization. I believe in the people, I believe in Chile and its future. “

Last October, Chileans sent a clear message nationwide that 78% approved the enactment of new laws by elected members. They will have nine months to draft the new rules – a period that can be longer than three months.

Not everyone is a lover.

“The Constitutional Convention came about because of the hopeless agreement that Congress made behind us. These will be temporary laws and in a few years we will have a new crisis because the interests of the people will not be eliminated,” Moisés Scherman, an economist, told Al Jazeera. Scherman said he deliberately ruined his decision.

Most Chileans seem to agree on one point. Economic growth should bring comfort and health to everyone, not just a few.

Over the past two decades, Chile has made great strides in economic development and poverty alleviation. The per capita income has more than doubled in the last 20 years and is now the highest in Latin America but progress has stalled. Wealth has grown, but under the right wing government of Sebastián Piñera, 1% of the population owns 25% of the national economy. It was this that led to the previous riots in October 2019, a brutal crackdown by the police.

The crisis stemmed from dissatisfaction with the economy and the current situation in the country. More than 3,700 people were injured by police (Carabineros) during the October protests, according to a February 2020 report from the National Institute of Human Rights in Chile.

Followers of the Constitutional Convention at the Plaza Egaña metro station, in Santiago, Chile [Odette Magnet/Al Jazeera]

Some political analysts are concerned that the prospects for the new constitution could be very ambitious and do not reflect reality. Citizens want to include a number of issues: human rights, women and workers, health, education, pensions, security and child protection, development, the fight against crime, gender equality, the environment, domestic violence, freedom of speech, and much more.

Patricio Navia, professor of political science at NYU and Universidad Diego Portales in Chile, says “people are very much looking forward to the new rules. Many people see them as magic pills that can solve all Chilean problems. they are being fulfilled. ”

Navia believes that for Chile to be able to increase social security, “the country must be economically prosperous than ever before. To do that, there must be clear laws to attract foreign investment and limited space for equal access to all.”


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