SANTIAGO: Chile will go back to the drawing board to redraft its Augusto Pinochet-era constitution after a new text got overwhelmingly rejected in a historic referendum vote on Sunday (Sep 5), a blow to the country's progressives, including young President Gabriel Boric.
Boric on Monday held meetings with political and social leaders over how to salvage plans for a new constitution, bruised by the vote that saw some 7.9 million Chileans reject the proposal against 4.9 million in favour, a larger-than-expected landslide loss.
With mandatory voting driving strong turnout of some 13 million people, the reject camp overturned momentum from a 2020 referendum when 80 per cent of Chileans had voted in favor of drafting a new constitution, though only 7.6 million people then had voted.
"Beyond the legitimate differences, I know that the desire for dialogue and meetings prevails. We continue and will move forward," Boric wrote on Twitter on Monday after having given a conciliatory speech on Sunday night calling for unity.
The reject camp won in almost all districts of the country, the world's top producer of copper and the No 2 for lithium, where decades of relative conservative and market-led policy were shaken up in 2019 by fiery protests against inequality that many blamed on the Pinochet-era constitution.
The vote had been seen as something of a referendum also on 36-year-old Boric, who came into office in March promising economic and social reforms, though has been hit by high inflation levels, economic worries and a weak peso currency.
Chile's markets rallied on Monday as investors cheered the result, which some said will force any new constitution text to be more moderate and to involve more centrist and conservative groups in its redrafting.
Boric, who led a broad leftist alliance when winning election, said on Sunday night that he was planning to reshape his cabinet in the wake of the defeat, which could also see him bring in more moderate ministers.
Center-left and right-wing politicians that opposed the new constitution have expressed interest in working with the government to draft a new text, while others have suggested amending the current constitution through Congress.