CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION PROCESS

Given the relevance of the process carried out by the Constituent Convention, Guerrero Olivos has prepared the following summary explaining how the draft stages for the new Constitution are advancing. The proposal for a new Constitution will be subjected to general elections on September 4th, 2022.

On October 25th, 2020, an Entrance Plebiscite was held, which approved the drafting of a New Constitution through a Constitutional Convention, that is to say, a body constituted exclusively by members elected by popular election for this instance.

As a result, on May 15th and 16th, 2021, the election of the Constitutional Convention members was held, where 155 members were elected to draft a New Constitution, of which 17 correspond to seats reserved for native or indigenous peoples.

The Constituent Convention is directed by  the Convention’s Chair, that has 9 members elected by the same institution.

The 155 Convention members can meet in plenary session, that is, everyone present, or in Special Commissions.

For the latter, the following seven Commissions were created to focus on the fundamental themes to elaborate a draft of the New Constitution, which has between 15 and 33 constituents:

  1. Commission on Political System, Government, Legislative Power and Electoral System.
  2. Commission on Constitutional Principles, Democracy, Nationality and Citizenship.
  3. Commission on the Form of State, Order, Autonomy, Decentralization, Equity, Territorial Justice, Local Governments and Fiscal Organization.
  4. Commission on Fundamental Rights.
  5. Commission on Environment, Rights of Nature, Natural Goods, Commons and Economic Model.
  6. Commission on Justice Systems, Autonomous Control Bodies and Constitutional Reform.
  7. Commission on Knowledge Systems, Culture, Science, Technology, Arts and Patrimony.

To include a norm in the draft of a New Constitution, it must undergo a series of voting and deliberation processes both in the Special Commissions and in the Plenary.

The regulatory approval process begins with the presentation of a regulatory policy, which may come from: (i) a group of between 8 to 16 Constituent Convention Members, (ii) from the citizens having -at least- 15.000 signatures, (iii) from the native peoples, (iv) from the Afro-descendant tribal people, and/or (v) by children and adolescents.

The Convention’s Chair is in charge of sending the initiative to the respective Commission for analysis and discussion, where it may be rejected or approved.

If the initiative is approved, if a simple majority supports the initiative, the Commission must make a report and send the initiative to the Plenary for its analysis, in general, where it will be voted.

If the Plenary rejects the initiative, in general, i.e., it is not approved by ⅔ of the 155 members, it may be referred only once to the Committee of origin to accept the indications and/or modify the report.

If the initiative is rejected again when it returns to the Plenary, it will be definitively discarded.

On the other hand, if the initiative is approved in general, i.e., it obtains ⅔ of the votes of the Plenary, the articles contained in the report will be voted one by one.

If an article obtains the approval of the ⅔ of the constituents, it will be incorporated into the draft of the New Constitution.

On the contrary, if the initiative does not obtain the ⅔ of the votes of the 155 members of the Plenary, it will depend on how many votes were cast: (i) if it obtained less than a simple majority approval it is immediately discarded; and (ii) if it obtains a simple majority or more but less than ⅔, it is referred to the respective Commission only once to be reanalyzed and voted again in the Plenary. If this amended initiative is rejected, i.e., it does not obtain the ⅔ of the Plenary, it is definitively discarded.

As of April 18th, 2022, the Plenary meets several times a week to analyze the reports sent by the respective Commissions and to discuss the regulatory policies from a general perspective so that, if approved, they can be discussed in particular.

To date, sixteen general reports from all the committees that make up the Convention’s organizational structure have been approved.

As of April 18th, 2022, 239 articles have been incorporated into the draft of the New Constitution, which refer to Political System, Constitutional Principles, Form of State, Fundamental Rights, Justice System, Knowledge Systems, and Environment.

Harmonization Commission:

Following the vote on the proposals, the Harmonization Commission will be formed to ensure the concordance and coherence of the constitutional norms approved by the Plenary, to prepare reports on possible inconsistencies, and to review deficiencies in legislative technique, omissions, contradictions in syntax, and grammatical, spelling and style corrections.

This Commission will be composed of 40 members of the Constituent Assembly (four constituents must sponsor to form part of the Commission).

Thus, the text proposed by the Harmonization Commission must be approved by a quorum of 2/3 of the constituents.

Transitory Norms Commission:

The rules of procedure of the Constitutional Convention regulate the functioning of this commission, whose purpose will be to establish the terms and forms in which the new constitutional provisions will enter into force.

This Commission will be composed of 33 members of the Constitutional Convention, 4 of whom will be seats reserved for representatives of the native peoples.

Thus, the text proposed by the Transitory Norms Commission must be approved by a quorum of 2/3 of the members of the Constituent Assembly.

Preamble Commission

The purpose of the creation of this commission is to draft the preamble that will precede the normative text of the proposed new constitution. This brief text introduces and explains the context and the main objectives of the proposed Fundamental Charter.

This Commission will be composed of 15 members of the Constituent Assembly, of which one seat is reserved for a representative of the native peoples.

Thus, the text proposed by the Preamble Commission must be approved by a quorum of 2/3 of the members of the Constituent Assembly.

According to the current schedule, the draft of the New Constitution should be ready by July 9 of the current year.

Once the President of the Republic has been informed of the proposed constitutional text approved by the Convention, he must call national elections for the citizens to approve or reject the proposal. This plebiscite must be held 60 days after the publication in the Official Gazette of the respective supreme decree -the period in which a campaign period will be opened- and will be with mandatory voting, i.e., approximately 15,000,000 Chileans and foreigners residing in Chile must vote.

The exit plebiscite will be held on September 4th, 2022

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