For the second time, Chileans have rejected the proposal for a new constitution in a referendum. While they rejected a very progressive draft over a year ago, a majority of them also voted against the right-wing opposition’s proposal on Sunday.

55.7 percent of voters rejected the draft from the Constitutional Council, which is dominated by conservative parties, as the electoral office announced after counting over 95 percent of the votes. 44.2 percent voted for the new Basic Law.

Critics – including the left-wing government of the South American country – had complained that the new constitution represented a step backwards in certain basic rights. The draft could restrict the right to abortion, enable the immediate expulsion of foreigners and establish tax advantages for homeowners.

Progressive draft went too far for conservative population

It was the second attempt to give Chile a new constitution. Last year, voters rejected a very progressive constitutional draft by a large majority. It would have guaranteed the right to housing, education and health, established a 50 percent quota for women in all state bodies and granted the indigenous communities the right to self-determination. That apparently went too far for many people in the conservative country.

The current constitution from 1980 dates back to the period of the military dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet. The state’s tasks are reduced to a minimum and the education, health and pension systems are largely privatized. A new constitution was one of the main demands of the 2019 social protests.