155: The Joy of Representation

Fake Flamenco Exclusive: Chileans have waited a long time to open the door to a new democratic Constitution; 48 years. Decades after the dictatorship they’ve lived in electoral democracy without the founding document to support it. Dictator Pinochet poisoned the foundations with a constitution of his design.

On Fake Flamenco, we have followed the Chilean people’s journey; years of unjust economic and social policies which led to enormous protests. The Chile Despertó (Chile Awoke) uprisings in March 2020 were massive and effective. The government wisely decided to meet the request for a plebiscite vote, scheduled for 2020. See our article about the protest.

The October 2020 plebiscite was well-attended (despite the pandemic) and decisive. The people voted yes for a new constitution and yes for a constitutional congress made up of citizen representatives, rather than only senators. In January 2021, 3,382 people registered as candidates. The vote was scheduled for last April.

April voting was cancelled, due to the pandemic and rescheduled for this past weekend, 15-16 May. Many people were worried that an election over two days would lead to fraud favoring the President’s more conservative party. Fortunately, the results have proved otherwise. The historic election was successful in nominating 155 constitutional congress representatives. Gender parity was guaranteed and 17 positions were reserved for Tribal Members. Voting occurred in a similar way to for the US Senate, by state (called a region in Chile).

The Chilean people spoke clearly saying that they want a change in leadership and direction for their country. Only 25% of the resulting representatives belong to the conservative party coalition of the president. 75% come in with new ideas and fresh approaches to equality and social organization. The 155 representatives have nine months to work together to craft a new constitution. I am very hopeful for a Chile that respects LGBTQ rights, implements effective social programs, that provides a good education and life for all.

Chilean Constitutional Congress Composition Graphic: 24 horas, Chile Elige

Description for people with visual challenges: Let’s talk about the graphic – The number 155 for the representatives at the top. Below is a half circle comprised of dots of five colors. Dots are grouped by color; green, blue, red, pink and brown. A legend for the graphic reads: Green (48 dots) for Independent candidates, Pink (25) for the List of Approval candidates, Blue (38) for the Let’s Do it For Chile (President’s affiliates), Brown (17) for the Original Peoples, Red (27) for Approve Dignity. RC Aside: This is what democracy looks like.

Below is a photo of the Palacio Pereira, where the Constitutional Congress will meet! For an image of how it looked until recently (a stunning metaphor), see this article. When we lived in Chile 2001 to 2002, I noticed it was in ruins. Thank goodness the Chilean people have given new life to their democracy and the Congress building!

Which ideas and ideals are the most important to include in a democratic constitution, in your opinion? Please join the dialogue in the comments below.

¡Viva Chile! ¡Olé! –Rebecca

Palacio Pereira 2021 Photo: DelRoble Caleu
Rebecca Cuningham

17 thoughts on “155: The Joy of Representation

  1. Thanks for the update. I hope the process continues to go well and untainted. I would add that a statement of rights should be prominent in the draft, as well as garauntees of a free press and voting rights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, Larry. I agree that the bill of rights, free press and voting rights are extremely important. I will be interested to hear how the delegates organize their work and encourage input from all 155 members.

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    1. Bienvenida, Eliana. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I will be fascinated to see the way in which people’s rights will be better protected in the new constitution. I am hopeful for a positive outcome. The Chilean people deserve it!

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  2. Thank you for bringing this news to my attention, Rebecca. This is very encouraging for the future of Chile. I think free elections are the bedrock of a democracy. I shudder to see our elections in the United States under constant attack by the conservatives. Democracy is so very fragile.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that free elections are important, Janet. Chile has held elections since the dictatorship ended, but it needed a more fundamental change at the Constitutional level. Hopefully by next year they will have a document that secures the rights of all citizens. Thanks for your comments!

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  3. I agree with janetsm’s comments. Here in the UK our current administration is slowly but surely chipping away at our democratic rights, and it’s frightening to see how easily this is achieved, and how few people, relatively speaking, are concerned about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, Margaret. I think voting and representation are rights we can take for granted when the struggle for them is far in the past. Voter suppression by changing polling places, adding ID rules, and limiting the number of polling places in areas where minority populations live is unfortunately increasingly common in the US once again.

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