Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has announced that she has begun revision of the country’s outdated constitution.
The rewrite is set to take several years.
Bachelet promised to rewrite the constitution as part her 2013 electoral campaign. The current 1980 constitution was rewritten during Chile’s military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990 under General Augusto Pinochet.
Under the current constitution, abortion remains illegal in the Latin American country.
Bachelet commented that Chile’s current constitution “has its roots in the dictatorship and doesn’t meet with the needs of our times.” BBC reports.
Scepticism across the board
But the president’s proposal has been met with a degree of scepticism. For those on Chile’s political right, the new constitution forms part of Bachelet’s plan to “distract” the voting population from corruption allegations which have not only shaken parliament but also businesses and even Bachelet’s son.
However, the left has also voiced concerns over Bachelet’s proposed rewrite.
“We want to know what mechanism will be used to resolve democratic differences, that’s the main question,” commented congressman and ex-student leader Giorgio Jackson.
“I’m doubtful as to how that’s going to be achieved; will she (Bachelet) decide, or will we decide as plebiscite,” He asked.
Although written under the dictatorship, various sectors of Chilean society during the 1990s believed that the previous constitutional framework was in no means suited to meet the country’s needs.
Furthermore, under current Chilean law, Quorum law deems that a Congress majority vote can alter parts of the constitution. By modifying how such changes could be made was considered a positive step for Chileans and the development of the country.
“These movements believe that the state should play a key role in the country’s economic and social life,” analyst Gonzalo Muller added.
From March 2016, Bachelet will meet with citizens to undertake discussions and listen to proposals as part of a final document which will be sent to Chilean parliament.
“Chile needs a new and better constitution born out of democracy which expresses free will,” the president said during a televised speech.