SANTIAGO, Chile — Voters in Chile on Sunday could transform what has long been one of Latin America’s most conservative countries into one of the world’s most left-leaning societies.
In a single ballot, Chileans will decide whether they want legal abortion; universal public health care; gender parity in government; empowered labor unions; greater autonomy for Indigenous groups; rights for animals and nature; and constitutional rights to housing, education, retirement benefits, internet access, clean air, water, sanitation and care “from birth to death.”
It is perhaps the most important vote in the 204-year history of this South American nation of 19 million — a mandatory, nationwide plebiscite on a written-from-scratch constitution that, if adopted, would be one of the world’s most expansive and transformational national charters.
legalized divorce only in 2004, would suddenly have more rights enshrined in its constitution than any other nation. If they reject it, Chile would have little to show for what had once been seen as a remarkable political revolution.
the new administration of President Gabriel Boric, a tattooed, 36-year-old former student-protest leader who took office in March, but has quickly faced plummeting approval ratings amid rising inflation and crime. The constitution would enable Mr. Boric to carry out his leftist vision, while rejection could mire his term in more political fighting about what to do next.
A year ago, most Chileans would have bet that the country would embrace the proposed constitution. There has long been widespread discontent with the current constitution, which has roots in the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 until 1990.
In 2019, nationwide protests that left 30 people dead led Chile’s political leadership to grant a referendum on the constitution. A year later, nearly four out of five Chileans voted to replace it.