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How much (constitutional) change will Chileans get?

A year and a half after millions poured into the streets of Santiago to protest inequality and the vestiges of the Pinochet dictatorship, Chileans voted this weekend to elect the 155 people who will rewrite the country's constitution.

The question now is not whether the people want change — clearly they do — but rather how much change their representatives can agree on. Overall, the new text is widely expected to beef up the role of the state in a country where a strong private sector made Chile one of Latin America's wealthiest yet also most unequal nations.

Here are a few things to bear in mind as the constitutional rewrite process kicks off.

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What We're Watching: Chile's new constitution, Bibi hangs on in Israel, Ethiopia's violent vote

Who will write Chile's new constitution? Nineteen months after Chileans flocked to the streets to protest rising inequality, the country's constitution, which dates from the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, is finally set to be rewritten. And this weekend, Chileans will vote to elect the 155 representatives who are responsible for doing that. The constitutional convention group, which will include dedicated seats for indigenous community representatives and must be at least 50 percent female, will likely include right- and left-leaning representatives who will need to find common ground on revising the neoliberal, free market economic model that has long been the law of the land in Chile. Indeed, privatization of education and healthcare helped Chile become one of the most prosperous states in the region — and also one of the most unequal. Meanwhile, codification of women's rights, a flashpoint issue in Latin America, will also be on the table. The representatives will have nine months to rewrite the document, which will then need to be approved in another referendum.

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Women in power: Chile’s Michelle Bachelet

Whose job is it to keep an eye on the governments that kill, torture, and displace people? The officials who turn back asylum-seekers, abuse migrants, jail journalists, or smash the skulls of peaceful protesters?

That's more or less a day at the office for Michelle Bachelet. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2018, the former two-time leftwing president of Chile is perhaps the most visible and influential voice on human rights in the world today.

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Elections to watch in 2021

This year, voters in dozens of countries will choose new leaders. With the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic as a backdrop, how will the worst global crisis in more than a hundred years play out at the ballot box? Here are a few key elections to keep an eye on in 2021.

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Chile wants a new constitution. Here's why.

In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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What We’re Watching: Protests in Chile, US vs Google, Middle East economic peril

Protests ahead of Chile's referendum: It's been one year since massive protests over inequality rocked the normally staid and ostensibly affluent country of Chile. To mark that anniversary this week, tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets again, in part to call for a "YES" vote in Sunday's upcoming referendum on whether to rewrite the country's constitution. But some of the demonstrators turned to violence and looting, setting the country on edge as the crucial vote looms. Replacing the country's current constitution — which dates from the days of Pinochet's dictatorship — was a key demand of last year's protesters, who say that it entrenches the country's dizzyingly high inequality by limiting the role of the state and constraining political choices. If the current protests continue through the weekend, authorities and street activists alike are concerned violence may deter some people from voting.

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The global disruption in the education sector

This week, Ian Bremmer looks at how one affluent community in Chile sounded the alarm on in-person education in the COVID age long before the American academic school year started up this fall.

Watch the GZERO World with Ian Bremmer episode, Stanford's president: College in the COVID age

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Chile's miners in a jam, sexist attacks in Italy, climate summit postponed

Chile's miners caught in a COVID bind: Even as coronavirus swept their country, Chile's hardy copper miners, whose industry accounts for a full ten percent of Chile's economy, continued to go to work. But now, as their unions prepare for new contract negotiations and seek bonuses for having worked amid COVID-19 hazards, they might be stuck in a tight shaft. For one thing, coronavirus related economic shutdowns around the world, especially in copper-hungry China, have caused prices to plunge, putting copper companies in an especially tight-fisted frame of mind. For another, the pandemic has increased many companies' desire to replace more of their workers with robots — Chile's mining industry is particularly exposed. The outcome of the negotiations, which could shape life for Chile's miners for years to come, is an early bellwether of the kinds of issues that unions around the world may face as they seek to negotiate with employers in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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