Reform that enables the constituent process advances: the Constitution Commission of the Senate approves in principle and opens a deadline for indications

The Constitutions Commission of the Senate has generally approved the constitutional reform that arises after the “Agreement for Chile” —signed by the political forces with parliamentary representation— and which aims to activate a new constituent process.

The president of the instance, Senator Matías Walker (Democrats), stated that the intention is to send the text from the Chamber during the next week.

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The minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency (Segpres), Ana Lya Uriarte, underlined that the itinerary is clear. Tomorrow, Tuesday 27 December, until 12, there is a deadline for inserting the instructions. Furthermore, an afternoon session is scheduled to discuss these indications which will be voted on on Wednesday 28 December. “All this, in order to try to carry out a process as agile and fast as possible, so that we can have a constituent process enabled during the year 2023,” said the Secretary of State.

From the Government entered the request for immediate discussion. However, as this week is district for MPs, there has been no session of the House and this request has not been considered. In any case, according to Minister Uriarte, the initiative “is being elaborated under the impetus of the Constitutions Commission itself and next week -when the senators of the district will return during the week-, the Chamber will meet to give an account and take the appropriate decisions .”

The possibility of delaying the election of the Constitutional Council by two weeks was discussed in the session, given that the concordat of May 14th coincides with Mother’s Day, a “very delicate date for the people and very important for commerce”, as stated explained the senator. Walker.

As regards the itinerary, the head of the Segpres underlined that he had made clear the fact that the election of the constitutional advisers was set for next May 14th. Therefore, “we have put on the table a matter of interest that must be examined by the Senate”.

“We have always said that the deadlines were subject to the elaboration times of the Servel project and technical report”, said the president of the Senate, Álvaro Elizalde (PS), as well as recalling that when the agreement was presented “we were explicit that the itinerary could undergo some changes, depending on the needs expressed by Servel and the processing times of the initiative”.

“We are open to defining dates, within what has been proposed, a couple of weeks or so,” added Senator Elizalde.

As for the changes, the PS legislator stressed that “some points will be clarified, but not to change the agreement”.

“Agreement for Chile”

It is worth mentioning that on the afternoon of this Monday, December 26, the Senate began discussing the project that enables the new constitutional process, a key reform that must be validated in both houses of Congress.

As Senator Walker had previously told the press, it was envisaged “not to introduce substantial changes to the text”, as it is “the result of an agreement (…) and the idea is that if there are changes that result from the debate, if it is necessary to make clarifications, these arise by mutual agreement”.

The political agreement to give continuity to the constituent process entered as a reform project on Wednesday 21 December, after more than three months of negotiations between the forces with parliamentary representation, an agreement that resolved complex issues such as the composition of the editorial board, the participation of experts and their minimum requirements.

In turn, it was established that the participants in the drafting process (50 members of the elected Constitutional Council, 24 experts and 14 jurists who will be part of the technical admissibility commission which will play a sort of arbitrator) are remunerated.

Administrators will receive 60 monthly fiscal units (UTM) – units of account used in the country for the payment of taxes and fines updated according to inflation – (almost $4,200), experts will charge 30 UTM (almost $2,100), while attorneys get paid 10 UTM (nearly $2,750) per session, with up to three sessions a month.

Instead, it was resolved to reserve a number of seats for indigenous peoples proportional to the total number of votes obtained at the national level and that the minimum margin to be elected will be 1.5% of the votes.

As regards the pending calendar dates, it has been agreed that elections for constitutional advisers will be held on 14 May 2023.

The agreement for a new constituent process closed on December 13 and was signed by 14 political forces from the Independent Democratic Union (Udi) to the Communist Party.

It establishes that the new body that will draft the basic law proposal will be called the Constitutional Council and will be made up of 50 people elected by the citizens. At the same time, a commission of experts appointed by Congress (12 from the Senate and 12 from the Chamber of Deputies) will be established to prepare a preliminary project which will serve as a basis for the council.

The pact also provides for 12 institutional principles that the drafting body must follow and which would prevent a proposal for a re-foundation.

On September 4, 62.5% of Chileans rejected the constitutional proposal drawn up by a convention with a progressive majority and made up of independent citizens, without affiliation to political parties.

A few days later, the political forces started negotiations to start a new process because, despite the rejection of the plebiscite, there is consensus on the need to replace the current Constitution.

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