Chile Slides Toward Constitutional Suicide

After more than 10 months of work, Chile’s constitutional convention recently completed a draft of what the country hopes will soon become the highest law in the country. The document removes the certainty of individual choice – including health care, pensions and education – weakening property rights, increasing the role of the state in the economy and moving the country out of the country. representative democracy and the move towards mass rule.

To be enacted, it must be approved by a majority of voters in a national referendum on September 4. Today, that is far from certain. Polls indicate that public sentiment towards the rejection of the draft constitution has increased since the end of March. In a May 13 survey by Chilean voting company Cadem, 46 percent of respondents said they plan to vote against the draft while 38 percent said they would vote in favor of it. Sixteen percent did not respond or were undecided.

This gives hope to freedom-loving and not least centre-leftists that Chile can still retreat from the national suicide the document alludes to. If the “no” campaign fails, the Chilean economy, which has performed well over the past three decades, could be driven to a level of mediocrity similar to that of neighboring Bolivia and Argentina.

How Chile found itself on this ledge and was about to jump seems like a scratch on the head. According to the Chilean central bank, from 1989-2019 the economy grew at an average annual rate of 4.6%. According to government and UN data, by 2017, the poverty rate had dropped to 8.6% from nearly 70% in 1990.

The economy performed poorly during President Michelle Bachelet’s second (non-consecutive) term (2014-18). Her successor is President Sebastián Piñera, who took office for the second time in 2018. In October 2019, terrorists attacked civilian targets. Santiago’s subways and churches around the country were on fire. Street protests calling for change followed. Mr. Piñera eventually agreed to a national assembly on whether the country needed a new constitution. It was held in October 2020.

Chile’s business class opposes the new constitution. But once the project is passed, the center-right believes it can win the blocked minority – one-third plus one – to represent the congress and thus limit radicalism.

They were wrong. Many extreme candidates, single issue, running as independents have come together to get proportional representation votes. Seventeen seats are reserved for locals.

Social unrest is still lingering in May 2021 when elections to represent the congress are held. The Covid-19 pandemic, with mandatory quarantines in many cities, has further fueled youth anger against the establishment that the hardline left has nurtured for years. With a lower risk of serious illness from the virus, they voted in larger numbers than a group of more than 30 people.

As the smoke cleared, communists in Chile and many other far-left ideologies gained power within the congress. Several transactional socialists, seeking their own interests, agreed to collaborate. With the two-thirds majority needed to pass each paper, they set out to militia positions because they could.

A red flag is the length of the document. The U.S. Constitution succeeded, in large part, because it limited the power of government. By contrast, turning the constitution into a laundry list of mistakes about entitlements, and promising to secure those rights by empowering the state, is a ticket to poverty and tyranny.

However, this is the path the convention has gone down. According to the Santiago-based Center for Public Research, the Chilean draft has 49,637 words and 499 articles. This outperforms — and not in a good way — some of the top dictatorship basket cases in the region. Venezuela’s constitution has only 34,237 words and 350 articles. Bolivia’s has 38,353 words and 411 articles. The Chilean draft even beat Ecuador, having 49,523 words and 444 articles.

If the draft constitution becomes law, Chileans may no longer be able to use public money for private education. This would fulfill the Bolshevik goal of denying middle-class children admission to non-government schools, which for many was only possible because their parents combined their savings. family with public voucher to pay tuition. Health care options will be cut, as will water rights needed for mining and agriculture.

A world-class pension system, allowing workers to save in individual, unprotected accounts. The new law establishes a system run by the state. The document does not say what will happen to the accumulated savings. But it does not explicitly protect ownership, and money may have no genetic value.

Ambiguity in the entire draft is unlikely. It would allow the unicameral legislature to decide what would happen to private savings and other individual liberties. The same goes for the “moderate” price of expropriating land claimed by indigenous activists. Good luck running a country with such rules.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com

The Editorial Review: Best and Worst of the Week from Kim Strassel, Mary O’Grady and Dan Henninger. Image: Getty Images Synthesis: Mark Kelly

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Alley Einstein

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