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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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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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