“We must be proud that at the time of the deepest crisis (…) that our country has known for decades, Chileans and Chileans have opted for more democracy and not for less”, declared the president Boric after receiving the text in an official ceremony at the Parliament in Santiago.

The leftist president immediately signed a decree calling a referendum for September 4. For this compulsory vote, 15 million Chileans will have to say whether they accept (“Apruebo”) or reject (“Rechazo”) this new Constitution.

“Once again the people will have the last word on their destiny. We are starting a new stage,” declared the Head of State.

The choice to draft a new Constitution had been approved (78%) by the Chileans during a non-compulsory vote referendum in October 2020. In the event of rejection next September, the current fundamental law, dating from the time of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), will remain in force.

In the wake of the delivery of the text, the Constituent Assembly, made up of 154 independent citizens or affiliated with political parties, was dissolved, just one year after starting its work, on July 4, 2021.

– “Be patient” –

Seen as a way out of the political crisis of the 2019 uprising for more social equality, the constitutional project devotes through its 388 articles new social rights, the main demands of the demonstrators.

In the 1st article, Chile is defined in particular as a “social and democratic State of law”, “multinational, intercultural and ecological”, and “its democracy is equal”.

For a year, the debates were lively within the Constituent Assembly where the independents were the most numerous, with 104 seats, and the representatives of the right did not have a blocking majority. Two-thirds of the votes were needed to pass the articles.

During the ceremony, supporters of the constitutional change unfurled Chilean and Mapuche flags (the majority indigenous people in Chile) in front of Parliament, to the sound of songs from the era of the struggle against the dictatorship.

“It’s a very long job, you have to be patient and wait. It’s the new generations who will reap the fruits of all this,” Diana Diaz, a 75-year-old retiree, told AFP, Chilean flag in hand. .

The long months of work were also marked by the circulation on social networks of numerous infox to the public on the articles being debated.

“I invite you to debate intensely the scope of the text, but not the lies, distortions or catastrophic interpretations which are disconnected from reality”, urged the head of state, as the campaign for the referendum begins on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, the young left-wing president has reiterated his support for the draft Constitution, believing that the current one, adopted in 1980 in the midst of a military regime and which limits State intervention as much as possible, represents an “obstacle” to any fundamental social reform.

– “Very polarized campaign” –

Totally equal, the Constituent Assembly also had 17 seats reserved for representatives of Chilean indigenous peoples, including the Mapuches. For the Mapuche lawyer Natividad Llanquileo, elected to the Assembly, the process represented “the most democratic space we have known throughout the history of this country”.

Two months before the referendum, however, many polls indicate that the “no” (Rechazo), supported by the right, could win.

But some Chileans admit that they do not have a definitive opinion on the text which will now be broadcast in its entirety.

“It’s definitely going to be a very polarized campaign,” but a “bit more content-centric,” predicts Claudio Fuentes, a political scientist at Diego Portales University.

“The yes supporters must convince that the text will really change people’s lives, while those of the no will have to attract more moderate sectors behind them”, he summarizes.