Chile's Constitutional Court (TC) rejected on Tuesday a request by the government of Sebastián Piñera seeking to disapprove of a constitutional reform that Congress passed into law for a third withdrawal of 10 per cent of the pension funds.
In a plenum 7-3 vote, the TC did not accept the challenge for unconstitutionality and thus cleared the way for final parliamentary approval of the bill which seems inevitable following the Senate's green light last week.
In other words, the only way the third withdrawal of 10 per cent from pension fund accounts can only be stopped if Piñera chooses to veto it, which many at this point see as political suicide.
The TC's decision caused an immediate uproar in the political world and Senator Iván Moreira, from the right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI), assured that this is a very great defeat for the Government, which will have to assume serious consequences.
Moreira pointed out that the executive did not foresee the effects that having sent this project to the TC, approved with more than two thirds in the National Congress, could have, and warned that this will even imply a change of cabinet.
Socialist Deputy Maya Fernández asked the president not to veto the constitutional reform and to sign it so that millions of Chileans can receive 10 per cent of their pension savings.
Deputy Camila Vallejo, of the Communist Party, pointed out that the ruling of the TC is a huge defeat for the government by an institution as close to La Moneda as the Constitutional Court and considered that Piñera should immediately sign the reform approved by the parliament.
Deputy Pamela Jiles of the Humanist Party, one of the promoters of the bill, underlined that today is the end of the Piñera government, curiously at the hands of that anti-democratic monstrosity, which is the TC.” She also said, “Piñera will be able to continue I don't know for how long in La Moneda, but he will be vegetating, he will be an ornament.”
After the ruling was known, an emergency meeting of the Political Committee was called immediately from the La Moneda Palace, headed by the president, to decide in the face of this new situation.
In addition to being strongly criticized at the time by almost all political parties, including his own ruling party, the request presented by Piñera to the TC generated a wave of protests in the country with cacerolazos, barricades in the streets and even the call for a general strike for this coming Friday.
La Moneda went to the TC last week intending to block it, under the pretext that the draft was unconstitutional because it mortgaged the future of Chileans and would leave almost five of the 11,000,000 listed in the system without pension funds.