Chileans return to the polls on Sunday for their first 48-hour election

Dante Davagnino (1), one of those with an eye deformity at the hands of the police during the demonstrations that rocked Chile in October 2019, was recorded this Saturday while voting in Santiago de Chile, during the founding elections. EFE / Alberto Valdes

More than 23,000 soldiers guarded the polling stations as more than three million Chileans cast their votes in Saturday’s historic founding elections, boxes that were sealed and moved to locked rooms where they spent the night.

The 2,731 polling stations will open their doors on Sunday at 08:00 local time (12:00 GMT), a situation unprecedented in the history of Chile, which holds elections in two days to avoid congestion.

“The chamber will enjoy the protection of military personnel and also, after accreditation, there are representatives of various parties and independent candidates who can be noticed during the night that the process is transparent and that no one is in contact with the ballot box,” Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado explained this week.

An assistant electoral council delegate and a constituency official (Cerville) will also remain at the polling place, who will report any incident.

Election workers hold ballot boxes with votes in Valparaiso, Chile, May 15, 2021. REUTERS / Rodrigo Garrido
Election workers hold ballot boxes with votes in Valparaiso, Chile, May 15, 2021. REUTERS / Rodrigo Garrido

This is the most important election in modern Chilean history, in which 15 million Chileans will elect 155 citizens who will draft a new constitution to replace the current one in effect since the military dictatorship.

The conference will have 17 seats reserved for indigenous peoples and will be equal, which is unprecedented in the world and that within a few months it will make Chile the first country that men and women write on an equal footing.

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It will be the first time in 200 years of Chilean independence that a basic law has been drafted by the Elected Citizens Convention, as the three texts that were so far written by bodies not elected by popular vote (1833, 1925 and 1980).

“Without a doubt, we are facing the most important historical process of the past 40 years, which will determine the future for the next forty years,” said Speaker of the House of Representatives, Diego Poulsen, after the vote in the presidential election. South of the country.

20% share on Saturdays

The Servel reported that this Saturday is during the first voting day 3,052,413 voters voted, accounting for 20.4% of the electoral register. In the metropolitan area, where 8 of the country’s 19 million people live, participation increased to 21.5%, while in the coastal Valparaiso region it was 21.7%.

“Today’s electoral process has been successfully developed, and nearly all the ballot boxes and electoral materials are in the custody of the armed forces and the Carabineros, and with citizens controlling the agents,” Tagli said.

Election workers and the military wait while votes are stored at the end of the election day during elections for governors, mayors, councilors and members of the Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution to replace Chile's constitution, in Santiago, Chile on May 15, 2021 Photo: Pablo Sanhoza - Reuters
Election workers and the military wait while votes are stored at the end of the election day during elections for governors, mayors, councilors and members of the Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution to replace Chile’s constitution, in Santiago, Chile on May 15, 2021 Photo: Pablo Sanhoza – Reuters

The abolition of the current constitution, which was criticized for its dictatorial origin and its neoliberal bias, was decided in a historic referendum last October, and one of the main demands in the 2019 protests, and the most dangerous since the military regime, was about thirty. Dead and thousands of wounded.

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Some polling stations, especially in Santiago, were unable to close their doors at 6 pm; Because there are so many people waiting in line, and the laws prevent them from refusing to vote.

In conjunction with the electorate, more than 14.9 million voters will also elect 354 mayors, 2,252 councilors and 16 provincial governors, a number so far set by the executive branch that will contribute to the progress of the country’s decentralization.

The elections, which were postponed in April due to the epidemic, will take place in two days to avoid congestion and at a time when the pandemic is moving in most parts of the country and the vaccination process is progressing, with nearly 50% of the target population (15 million) vaccinated with the two doses.

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