Yesterday we looked at the plebiscite being voted on in Chile which, if approved, would have installed a new constitution bringing sweeping socialist changes to that country. Supporters of the new document pointed to polls showing that the “reject” movement was holding a slight advantage, but the gap had been closing and the proposed constitution might still squeak through. 36-year-old President Gabriel Boric, himself an ardent socialist, was a vocal supporter of the proposed constitution, but his poll numbers have been dropping steadily ever since he took office. Those numbers were reflected in the final vote last night. With 99% of the votes having been counted, the people of Chile rejected the socialist document by a more than twenty-point margin. The socialist faction quickly conceded defeat and agreed that they would need to go back to the drawing board and develop a constitution that would garner broad support. (Associated Press)

Chileans resoundingly rejected a new constitution to replace a charter imposed by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet 41 years ago, dealing a stinging setback to President Gabriel Boric who argued the document would have ushered in a new progressive era.

With 99% of the votes counted in Sunday’s plebiscite, the rejection camp had 61.9% support compared to 38.1% for approval amid heavy turnout with long lines at polling states. Voting was mandatory.

The approval camp conceded defeat, with its spokesman Vlado Mirosevic saying: “We recognize this result and we listen with humility to what the Chilean people have expressed.”

Some Chileans are already raising the question of how the polls could have gotten this fundamental question so wrong. Were they simply inaccurate and failing to reach representative respondents or might they have been intentionally skewed to deliver numbers more favorable to the president and sway public opinion to the left?

It’s not that often these days that we have the chance to report on some genuinely good news, but this clearly appears to be a positive development for the people of Chile. The proposal from the socialists would have created an ocean of “free stuff” for the people and disincentivized work while offering no plan to pay for it all. Chile’s copper mining industry – the largest supplier in the world – would have been crippled by all of the environmental demands included in the new constitution, costing countless jobs. Chile was on the verge of following Venezuela down a path toward a socialist revolution and ultimate ruin. But at the last moment, cooler heads prevailed and that fate was averted, at least for now.

One question for the Chileans to wrestle with is how the final draft of the new constitution skewed so far to the left. The answer is found in the process they used to create it. The people who were selected to draw up the new document were the most motivated, but they did not represent a majority of the voters. The socialists worked very hard and poured considerable resources into getting their own people elected into the constitutional convention that would draw up the new constitution. Their views carried the day and were reflected in the final draft.

But once the details emerged, a significant majority of Chileans saw the writing on the wall. This is to their credit. It’s true that they will remain without a replacement constitution for now and will likely take a least a few years to come up with a replacement. But this process shouldn’t be rushed into anyway. They expect to have a constitution that will last for generations and it’s a daunting task. Chile is approaching this challenge in a democratic fashion, with all citizens participating in both the selection of the constitutional convention and the eventual approval of the new document. And that is a very hopeful sign indeed.

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