Monday, June 10th 2013 - 21:43 UTC

Bachelet pledges new legitimate, transparent constitution, plus fiscal and education reforms

Former Chilean president (2006/2010) and Socialist candidate, Michelle Bachelet (61), pledged to elaborate a new constitution during her first year in office, if she is elected in the coming November presidential election.

The charismatic former president is leading in public opinion polls

“The new constitution will be sent to Parliament in my first year of government” pledged Bachelet in a lengthy Sunday interview with Chile’s main daily EL Mercurio. She revealed to have a team of experts working on the project because “a democratic constitution is essential in this new chapter of Chilean history”.

Chile’s current constitution was drafted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973/1993) and confirmed in controversial 1980 elections with which the dictator tried to validate his regime. The constitution had strong mechanisms to prevent a look into the past, a robust conservative opposition and ensure financing of the country’s armed forces with the copper surpluses.

In 2005 and with democracy effective, former president Ricardo Lagos agreed on reforming several “antidemocratic enclaves” of the text but which were considered ‘insufficient’ by the more militant left wing organizations.

“This (1980) constitution is illegitimate in origin, and even when amendments have been significant there are not enough for everybody to feel satisfied” said Bachelet, but despite the pledge she did not offer details or if a constitutional assembly would be convened to implement the reform.

“I don’t have a definitive approach” as to the way to introduce the amendments said Bachelet leaving the door open to debate the issue once the primary elections of the catch all left wing coalition are over, scheduled for June 30.

“We need a transparent, responsible constitution with some participation component from the people’s voice heard in the process”, she added.

Bachelet also promised that in the first 100 days of her coalition government she would be sending initiatives for an education reform and a tax reform, so that they can be approved by 2015.

The former president who is leading the opinion polls comfortably (56%) said she plans to increase taxes to finance an education reform that will need 1.5%, 2% of GDP to guarantee free education university for every Chilean in six year time.

The tax reform has as its main target “to advance fiscal equality, which means those groups with the highest income contribute what they must and they make a greater effort in that direction” and to address “the structural deficit which the next administration will inherit”.

Bachelet will be facing three left wing pre-candidates in the coming June 30 primaries, when she is expected to be confirmed as the left-leaning ‘Concertacion’ coalition presidential candidate. She will be facing a candidate from the conservative coalition which has as main hopefuls former ministers Pablo Longueira and Andres Allamand.

19 comments Feed

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1 Anglotino (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 12:16 am Report abuse
A new constitution is fine if it is acceptable to the people of Chile.

However I wouldn't call it very transparent if she already has a team of people drafting it and thinks it can be implemented in her first year in office.

Act in haste, repent at leisure.
2 Frank (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 07:05 am Report abuse
I don't have a problem with her drafting it just now..... however...

One of two things should happen , either she lets the people know what the new constitution is before the election or it goes to a referendum after the election.

Do they have referendadums in Chile?
3 Anglotino (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 07:12 am Report abuse
Yes there was a very famous referendum in 1988.

Chilean's know what is good for them, I think. I have no problems with ideas coming from political parties but I think the drafting should be left up to a constitutional assembly. I think it is always dangerous when a political party has a draft ready as the starting point.

The starting point should be blank paper.
4 ElaineB (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 09:48 am Report abuse
@4 Rarely do I disagree with you but in this case I do. Michelle Bachelet has the benefit of running the country for 6 years before Pinera and probably has a good idea what she thinks need addressing. She had an enviable approval rating throughout her presidency and left office highly respected.

I want to vote for someone knowing clearly what their intentions are and what they think are the priorities. Otherwise it is just a personality popularity competition with policy being made up on the hoof. People should know what is likely to happen if they vote for a particular candidate.

If you get a chance to see the film 'No' you will see an account of the famous referendum in Chile. It is very watchable. :)
5 Anglotino (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 11:42 am Report abuse
@5 ElaineB

I'm not sure if that was directed at me but I'll take a chance to reply anyway.

First, I have seen the film 'No'. Watched it about 4 weeks ago - it's why I mentioned a famous referendum in 1988.

I have nothing against Michelle Bachelet and I understand that she has high approval ratings and that she has also done good for Chile.

And I approve that she has declared that she has the intention of constitutional reform. But you only become a politician if you have a desire for power. You also only gain that power because you owe someone else - either people or a party.

That is the reason that the drafting shouldn't be done by politicians or the government. It should be done by the people. Admittedly they will more than likely approve and vote Bachelet's party into power, but that is not permanent.

Bachelet should create a constitutional assembly after she is elected. Her party should put forward its ideas and they should be treated as equal to ideas from other parties and from any civic groups that partake.

To have a new constitution presented to parliament within the first year is not really enough time in my eyes. A constitution should and could endure for centuries. It will hopefully be used long after Bachelet's presidency has slipped into Chile's history.
6 ElaineB (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 12:00 pm Report abuse
Yes, I was talking to you, though it appeared I was talking to myself LOL.

Do you think the only reason politician run is for power in a negative way? Knowing more than my fair share of politicians personally, I am not sure I agree. Some do, some don't, but pretty much all are affected by power in the long-term. You need a mandate from the electorate to make changes - in a democracy - so, yes, power is involved though not all are on a pure ego trip. In my experience. Some are egomaniacs for sure. (I say this as a pretty jaded person when it comes to the actual workings of the political system).

Do you think Bachelet will not involve all sides in drafting a new constitution? Chilean politics has very much moved to the centre - though the population is pretty divided 50/50 left and right - in order to be elected. I would be surprised if it were a closed committee.

I admire Bachelet for her attention to social issues and she has made some considerable and long-overdue improvements. Pinera has used his business brain to improve trade and the profile of Chile as a trading nation. I think both elements are needed in a developed country.

I agree with your last paragraph, and knowing Chileans are a cautious people, resistant to rapid change, I expect it will take a lot longer than Bachelet desires. JMO
7 Anglotino (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 12:18 pm Report abuse

I agree with you on many points. And yes, some politicians are indeed selfless and altruistic. And not all are bad. But they are human.

And let's face it, there is sometimes no way to know who will be a good politician or a bad one until history has judged. Therefore you should always doubt - checks and balances. Politicians should be limited in their power by constitutions and hence they shouldn't be deciding the limits of their power.

Chile, like Australia, oscillates around the centre. The major parties have similar economic policies and differ mainly in implementation and social policies. Our centre-left coalition government is about to lose power in about 100 days to a centre-right coalition. There will be differences in policies but the broad strokes will stay the same.

However I could think of nothing worse than my politicians delivering a new constitution to the parliament. If anything, they don't have the right. I don't know who should be represented in drafting a new constitution.

Anyway, off to bed. Enjoyed our chat Elaine.
8 manchesterlad (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 12:54 pm Report abuse
Changes to the constitution, free education for all, tax increases for the middle classes......sounds like we may have another Bolivarian government in S. America

The problem with these governments is that they can't distinguish themselves from the state, governments come & go but the state continues. This is why changes to the constitution shouldn't be made to suit the current government but the nation as a whole (as in 1988) As Anglo says the constitution should last a long time (maybe not centuries in this day & age) but should not be subject to change by every government that comes to power

As for politicians, the modern day system gives them too much power & opens them up to corruption, even with the best intentions after a few years they abuse their power & privilege mainly because their peers are doing becomes the norm

I just hope that Chile with it's proven economical success under Piñera doesn´t regress into left wing, socialist Bolivarian policies & makes the same mistakes as Argentina with CFK!!!
9 ElaineB (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 02:03 pm Report abuse
Personally, I don't think Bachelet is Bolivarian at all. Chile will be the first developed country in South America and free schooling is much needed. Though I will qualify that later. Currently the government pays an amount per child to schools that can ask for additional fees from parents. There are some incredibly rich school owners in Chile and there is no way all the money from the government goes on education.

But I do stop at free university education. Subsidised, if the government can afford it, but totally free will give them the Argentine model of eternal students who never qualify in anything. University education is horrendously expensive in Chile, given the average income, so I do think it should be subsidised on a means test for some.

@7 I am not sure I would go so far as selfless, but some do go into politics for the right reasons. To serve the electorate and improve their lives. I guess that is almost incomprehensible if egotistical, authoritarian governments are the norm, as in some SoAm countries.

Yes, the system should curtail the actions of the politicians. Politicians should fear the electorate, not the other way around.
10 Math (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 02:22 pm Report abuse
Chileans... Latin Americans, afterall.
11 Think (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 04:14 pm Report abuse
Article says....
“ She plans to increase taxes to finance an education reform that will need 1.5%, 2% of GDP to guarantee free education university for every Chilean in six year time.”

Hopefully she will....:
Reduce Chile's ridiculous high military expenditure (an inheritance of dictator Pinochet's “Constitution”) from 6% to 4% of its GDP, freeing thereby the 2% of GDP necessary to guarantee fee-free tertiary education for every Chilean that so wishes in six year time.

Following the good example of, for example...:
Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, India, Morocco, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay....

Viva Mami :-)
12 Condorito (#) Jun 11th, 2013 - 09:49 pm Report abuse
I don’t feel we have a pressing need to reform the constitution. I am not adverse to it in theory, but there is plenty that needs fixing ahead of constitutional reform.

9 Elaine
We already have free education. The problem is that it is very low quality.
I agree with you re university education. We can’t afford to supply free university education to all and it is not entirely desirable anyhow. It is remarkable that, as much of Europe frantically treads water to save itself from drowning under public debt, many in Chile want to take that same unsustainable route.

11 Think
The law (“la ley reservada del cobre”) that links military expenditure to copper sales came in to force under Carlos Ibáñez del Campo in 1958, not under Pinochet. Interestingly, during the 20 years post-Pinochet, the nominally socialist Concertación did not reform said law, this was left to the dovish Tatán Piñera, who did so in year 2 of his presidency.

“ ridiculous high military expenditure”...yes, 6% would be ridiculous if it were remotely accurate.
According to SIPRI it is 3.5%. According to UNASUR it is 1.4%
The SIPRI figure is inflated for a couple of reasons: (1) because they include the Carabineros in the calculation; (2) post Feb-27 Earthquake there was all sorts that needed fixing.

Taking that in to account 3.5% of GDP is an excellent price to pay for a professional, non-corrupt police force and modern armed forces with the dissuasive power to keep our territory-hungry neighbours fretting about how much we spend.

Mami studied military strategy at ANEPE, the Inter-American Defence College and the Chilean War Academy. Mami knows that with neighbours like ours - one who wanted to invade only 30 years ago; and 2 who are currently in the Hague claiming parts of our country – we need to maintain defence spending at its current, reasonable level. Mami didn’t reduce military spending whilst in power and she won’t do it if she comes back.... Viva Mami!
13 Marcos Alejandro (#) Jun 12th, 2013 - 04:06 am Report abuse
12 Condorito

The only invasion that I recall was from José de San Martín crossing the Andes to Chile, and triumphed at the Battle of Chacabuco and the Battle of Maipú (1818), liberating Chile from Spain.
14 Think (#) Jun 12th, 2013 - 04:12 am Report abuse
(12) Condorito

Just cheching if you were awake.....

It was my turn to write something “slightly” exagerated about Chile (as you guys do all the time about Argentina).....

I do “Think” that SIPRI has listended to your protests and excluded “Los Pacos” from their calculations.....

The “one neighbor who wanted to invade you just 30 years ago” was precisely the one with a “reasonable level of defence spending”....

That“ one neighbor” has taken the consequences of such “reasonable level of defence spending” and reduced it about 75% to a “much more reasonable level of defence spending” ....

Your other two neighbors, as you well say, are reclaiming, before the International Court of Justice, parts of disputed territory lost in an armed conflict.....

Hopefully, Mami will take that into account and stop buying expensive toys to her “hijo bobo”.

Viva Mami!
15 Condorito (#) Jun 12th, 2013 - 03:14 pm Report abuse
@13 MA
“ liberating Chile from Spain.”
The wars of independence were fought between two factions of the same European elite using the lives of the poor, the indigenous and the slaves. Two thirds of infantry that crossed the Andes were black (slaves and freed slaves). The Mapuche resisted “liberation” and fought against the new European elite. San Martin – [who arrived in Argentina on a British frigate, have recently fought for the British, having become a mason and having made some new friends in England] – merely changed the flag of the oligarchy that you so detest. The Spanish invasion, the San Martin invasion, the quasi invasion of your junta in 1978 are all perfect examples of why we need to maintain armed forces capable of defending our territory.

@14 Think
““slightly” exaggerated” is what we get from INE – your grossly exaggerated numbers are worthy of INDEC ;)

“The “one neighbor who wanted to invade you just 30 years ago” was precisely the one with a “reasonable level of defence spending”....”

Don't blame it on the sunshine,
Don't blame it on the moonlight,
Don't blame it on the junta times,
Blame it on the er... defence spending??

As you well know a properly equipped military does not cause wars (just look at the defence spend / capita of a country like Norway). A gullible public with a superiority complex lead by megalomaniacs are far more likely to ignite a conflict. Mami will certainly take that into account.

She will also take into account that both our neighbours currently suing us at the ICJ will lose and that at least one of them will not accept the decision and will continue to brainwash their school children and bang their drum from their stone-age retreat.
16 Think (#) Jun 12th, 2013 - 06:45 pm Report abuse
(15) Condorito
You say...:
“Bang their drum from their stone-age retreat”

I say...:
You sound less and less like Condorito every day......
You sound more and more like Che Copete every day.....
17 Condorito (#) Jun 12th, 2013 - 07:56 pm Report abuse
16 Think
I mean no disrespect to my Bolivian brothers. I wish they weren’t so backward, but endlessly using the lack of a coast to distract the public from the real issues is not going to help them forward any. Just like our eastern neighbour, they have created a monster that will forever hijack sensible governance.

With such country-jackings in the neighbourhood, both Condorito and Che Copete (and even Pepe Cortisona if being honest) agree that a strong defence is both prudent and necessary.
18 Marcos Alejandro (#) Jun 13th, 2013 - 04:46 am Report abuse
Waste of money condorito, become obsolete after a few years and no war in site except in your mind.
19 Condorito (#) Jun 13th, 2013 - 02:11 pm Report abuse
If Brazil started to claim Misiones and Dilma spent most of her time whipping the Brazilian public into a frenzy about reclaiming what was rightfully theirs, you might think differently.

As long as we have belligerent and unstable neighbours we must maintain a deterrent. Besides we get good value for money from the modest defence budget: excellent police force, border control, re-supply of far-flung territories in the Pacific and Antarctic, search and rescue, disaster response, earth observation satellite and so well spent.

Furthermore, there is a very real possibility that the world comes to blows over Antarctica. At the moment whilst we are building a new air force base (the closest of any to the south pole), Argentina struggles to even muster a sea worth vessel. One day you might be grateful of our defence facilities, one day you might come asking for help.

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