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Chile Rejects Socialist Constitution in Landslide Vote

Proposal would have mandated socialized medicine, enshrined abortion rights

A supporter of the reject option reacts to the results of the referendum on a new Chilean constitution in Santiago, Chile, September 4, 2022. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
• September 6, 2022 1:15 pm

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Chilean voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have given the South American nation a radical new constitution that mandates socialized medicine and a right to free housing, a result that decimates the political ambitions of the country's socialist president.

The referendum to adopt a new constitution, which was struck down by 62 percent of voters on Sunday, would have also bolstered environmental regulations and social welfare programs, as well as enshrined so-called abortion, gender, LGBT, and indigenous rights. Chilean president Gabriel Boric, who rose to fame as a socialist organizer, vowed on Sunday to continue his efforts to replace the country's 42-year-old constitution.

"Today the people of Chile have spoken, and they have done so loudly and clearly," Boric said. "This decision by Chilean men and women requires our institutions and political actors to work harder, with more dialogue, with more respect and care, until we arrive at a proposal that interprets us all, that is trustworthy, that unites us as a country."

The country adopted its constitution in 1980 after Augusto Pinochet successfully overthrew the socialist regime with a military dictatorship. Roughly 80 percent of Chileans voted to draft a new constitution in 2020, but the constitutional assembly that drafted its replacement faced accusations of left-wing bias. Opponents of the draft noted that the 155-member assembly is largely made up of left-wing lawmakers.

The Chilean peso and stock market skyrocketed on Monday in response to the referendum vote, which upholds the country's laissez-faire economic system. Boric said on Monday that renewed efforts to draft a new constitution will have a more moderate approach.

Published under: Chile, socialism