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Supporters of "I Reject" option react to early results of the referendum on a new Chilean constitution in Valparaiso, Chile.

REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

Can Chile get from “No” to “Yes”?

Sometimes the worst defeats can be the best new beginnings.

It’s been more than a week since Chile’s ultra-progressive draft constitution suffered a landslide rejection. Two-thirds of Chileans voted against it. Turnout was the highest in 30 years. The “No” vote won across every region and major demographic. It wasn’t even close.

But as Chile’s lawmakers get to work this week to map out a do-over, could that stunning defeat actually be a good thing for Chile’s polarized democracy?

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Chileans rally against the proposed new constitution in Santiago.

REUTERS/Iván Alvarado

Ahead of referendum, Chileans lukewarm on new constitution

On Sunday, Chileans go to the polls again to have their say on a proposed new constitution for the country.

Following earlier votes on whether a new charter was necessary and then who'd get to draft it, Chileans will decide whether to approve or reject a new constitution that enshrines some fundamental new rights and expands the role of the state in looking out for poor citizens and other marginalized groups.

How will the charter change Chile if it passes, and what happens if it doesn't? We get some clarity from Eurasia Group experts Yael Sternberg and Luciano Sigalov.

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell arrives to testify before the US Senate.

Tom Williams via REUTERS

What We're Watching: US Fed's next move, China's stimulus, Chile's president needs a win

All eyes on Powell at Jackson Hole

Updated Aug. 26: Heard of Jackson Hole, Wyoming? That's where all the economic bigwigs from around the world are gathering for an annual three-day event focused on the state of the global economy. In a stark departure from his position throughout much of the pandemic that inflation would be “transitory,” US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a keynote address Friday that there would be “some pain” for households and businesses in the months ahead, noting that inflation continues to soar. Powell also said it’s likely that we’ll see a “softening of labor market conditions,” suggesting that record low unemployment – the current silver lining of the economy – could tick upwards. Indeed, the Fed chair sought to defend his track record to economists and central bankers, many of whom have been critical of him for waiting too long to raise interest rates. Many observers took Powell’s address as a sign that the Fed will continue to tighten monetary policy in the months ahead as inflation tops 8% over the previous year. What's more, some economists say the Fed could soon raise rates as high as 4% (its current target rate is 2.25-2.5%), sparking fears of a sharp recession. Still, inflation is mild in the US compared to parts of Europe, particularly the UK, where inflation is estimated to hit a whopping 18.6% early next year.

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A service member of pro-Russian troops stands guard next to a combat vehicle, with the symbol "Z" seen on its side, in Mariupol, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

What We're Watching: A rare win for Putin, Chile drafts constitution, North Korea's COVID catastrophe

Putin enjoys rare win in Ukraine

This week brought more bad news for Vladimir Putin and his invasion. Ukrainian fighters have pushed Russians back from the city of Kharkiv, the fight for the Donbas appears to have stalled, and Russian commentators are becoming more open about their country’s military failures on the internet and even on state-controlled TV. But the surrender of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from a Mariupol steel plant gives Russia a genuinely important win. First, it clears away the final obstacle to establishing a land bridge that connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the Russian border. Second, it’s a big propaganda win for Putin, who insists the war is aimed partly at “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. Many of those who surrendered belong to the Azov Battalion, a group with a history of ultra-nationalist, white-supremacist politics. Ukraine’s government says it hopes the now-captive troops can be traded for captive Russians, but Russia’s parliament may ban any release of Azov prisoners. Ultimately, Putin will decide their fate. Are they most valuable to him as trophies, or as pawns who provide him with an opportunity to appear magnanimous?

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A demonstrator holds a placard reading "New Constitution now" during a protest against Chile's government in Santiago.

REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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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