By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Electoral campaigns to approve or reject Chile’s proposed new constitution officially began on Wednesday and high-profile political and public figures have started picking sides at a time when public support is faltering.
President Gabriel Boric has expressed personal support for the new constitution, saying it would aid his ambitious social and environmental agenda.
Pedro Pascal, the popular Chilean-American actor from the “The Mandalorian” who supported Boric during the election, posted a photo on Twitter with the new constitution expressing his support.
Chile’s conservative politicians have opposed the new constitution from the beginning, but former socialist President Ricardo Lagos dealt a blow to the approval campaign Tuesday after releasing a statement saying both the proposed and the existing constitutions are far from gathering support and rallying “the great majority of citizens.”
“What happened with Lagos is a tremendously important fact when support for the proposal was already falling,” said Kenneth Bunker, head of political consultancy Tresquintos.
Bunker added that Lagos’s position “opens the door for other figures from the center-left to join.”
Former president and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has previously expressed support, but members of her government, including former Finance Minister Andres Velasco, came out against the new constitution on Wednesday.
Nearly 80% of Chileans voted to draft a new constitution in 2020 to replace a text that dates back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship which ended in 1990, but support has been dropping for months amid political controversies surrounding the process.
Cadem’s latest poll shows 51% of respondents plan to vote the new magna carta, an all-time high, while only 15% remain undecided.
“People want a new constitution, but apparently they don’t want this one,” Bunker said, adding that the government needs a “Plan B” to meet social demands if the new text is rejected.
A congressional committee approved dropping the requirement to reform the current constitution by 2/3 to 4/7 congressional vote on Tuesday, a measure that will now be reviewed by the wider body.
(Report by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Alexander Villegas, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)