The counting of votes in the plebiscite called for this Sunday in Chile to approve or reject a proposal for Constitution that seeks to change the one inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1989) for another with more social rights began, after a day that developed “normally” according to the authorities.
More than 15 million voters were summoned to the polls.
The first tables began to close in the city of Punta Arenas, in the extreme south of Chilein a day of “absolute normality”, according to the general director of the police, Ricardo Yañez.
The plebiscite, of obligatory vote, was developed with a high participation of voters throughout the country.
Abroad, where there are some 100,000 registered Chileans and voting is voluntary unlike in their country, the first results showed a narrow difference between the options of “support for” y “rejection” to the constitutional proposal, according to Chilean media based on consular data.
The new text, of 388 articles and elaborated during a year by a Constitutional Conventionenshrines a “Social State of Rights”, in response to claims expressed in the massive demonstrations of October 2019.
The bill consecrates indigenous plurinationality and establishes a new catalog of social rights in health, abortion, education and pensions, with a marked environmental emphasis, and maintains the market economy model.
Elecier Adaos, a 75-year-old retiree, hopes like many that polarization will decrease once the results are known. “Whoever wins, let this conflict not come back. They were very violent in recent days,” he said after voting at a school in San Bernardo, south of Santiago.
The option of “Rejection” to the new Constitution leads all the polls for more than a month, but the campaign of “I approve“He mobilized crowds, especially in Santiago, fueling the illusion of victory among his supporters.
The President of Chile, Gabriel Boricassured that whatever the result, he will call for “national unity” in an exercise with “more democracy” to overcome social fractures, voting to applause in his hometown of Punta Arenas.
the former president Michelle Bachelet, very popular in the country, said that if the “rejection” option wins, as the polls anticipate, “the demands of Chileans will not be satisfied” and a new constituent process should be called. The former president voted in Geneva, Switzerland, where she has just left her position as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The closing acts of the campaign on Thursday in the capital of this country of almost 20 million inhabitants, gave two photos that contrast with the forecasts.
The street party of “I approve” summoned between 250,00 and 500,000 people, according to the organizers, while the closing ceremony of the “Rejection” consisted of an event of no more than 400 people.
“What is seen in the polls is confirmed, that the advantage of “Approve” in Santiago is going to be very important over “Reject”, says sociologist Marta Lagos, founder of the Mori pollster.
“But that doesn’t mean the “I approve“He’s going to win (because) he has a lot of disadvantage in the south and in the north of the country”, areas that suffer from violence and insecurity, adds Lagos.
While in the south there are conflicts over land claimed by Mapuche indigenous groups, in the north there is an incessant influx of undocumented immigrants who live on the streets and which has generated the appearance of mafias of human traffickers.
“Around here, people go more for the rejection. (…) They believe that it is the best way, because they are afraid of changes. They have to eat, they have work and they think that they are going to lose it,” he explains to AFP Alfredo Tolosa, a 47-year-old worker at a lumber company in Tucapel, a town of 13,000 inhabitants in the Biobío region (south).
The “I approve” is young
For the first time in more than a decade, voting is mandatory under penalty of a maximum fine of 180,000 pesos (about $200). That, along with the participation of young people, could tip the scales.
The massive closing ceremony of the “Apruebo” confirmed that many young people are going to vote, especially in the Metropolitan region, and that these young people favor the “Apruebo,” said Lagos.
Experts expect the participation of more than 11 million people, well above the 8.3 million who voted in December, when the leftist Boric won the presidential election.
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