Some 15.4 million Chileans are called to the polls today, in a mandatory voting plebiscite, to decide on a new, conservative Constitution. The Chilean left – with the Government of Gabriel Boric at the helm – which for years battled for a new Magna Carta, asks for no, considering that the text on the table is more regressive than the current one, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

This is the second constituent process since, in October 2020, after a wave of protests against inequality that left thirty dead and thousands injured, Chileans voted in favor of drafting a new Constitution. However, two years later, in September 2022, 62% of voters overturned the text that had been drafted by a left-wing majority assembly. It had to establish new social rights in education, health and housing, recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and the right to abortion.

It would not be the last blow for Chilean progressivism. In May, the polls were returned to elect the new Constitutional Council, which had to draft another proposal. The surprise was that 22 of the 50 elected councilors were from the far-right Republican Party, led by José Antonio Kast (who in 2021 lost the presidential elections in the second round against Boric). That is, the defenders of Pinochet’s legacy, who never opted to change the current fundamental text, took the reins of the process.

The 216-article Constitution that they have drafted is, in several aspects, more conservative than the current one, which was drafted during the dictatorship, but has been reformed some 70 times since 1989. For this reason, both the left and the center-left now prefer to stick with the old text against which they fought so much. They see a setback on issues such as abortion, with an article that protects “the life of the unborn.” Abortion was completely prohibited in Chile until 2017, when a law authorized it if the mother’s life is at risk, in case of rape or if the fetus is not viable. The new text, progressives warn, puts it in danger.

The articles also include tough measures on immigration, consolidate the protection of private property and prohibit, for example, the nationalization of pensions.

In Chile, polls are prohibited less than 15 days before the elections, but the latest ones published indicated that this text will not be approved either. 59.7% would vote against compared to 40.3% in favor, according to the latest Activa Research survey. However, the fact that voting is mandatory makes the result more unpredictable, so surprises cannot be ruled out. Everything indicates, in any case, that the result will be much closer than the scramble of 2022.

Even if the no comes out, it will be a symbolic defeat for Boric. Both the president and his government coalition have said that they will not support a third constitutional process, considering that citizens are tired of a process that has lasted four years and has divided the country. It means shelving an old demand of the left. But we must concentrate our forces: municipal and gubernatorial elections will be held in 2024, while next year there will be presidential and parliamentary elections.