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A woman holds a sign with the phrase "Don't be afraid of change" following the constitutional referendum in Santiago de Chile.

Claudio Abarca Sandoval via Reuters Connect

Second time the charm for new Chilean constitution?

Chileans will try again this year to agree on a new constitution to replace the one drafted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. A substantial share of the population has long wanted to jettison the Pinochet-era charter – though it has undergone significant changes over the years – and the issue became a rallying cry for the massive demonstrations that rocked the country in 2019. Yet the first attempt to do so failed when voters decisively rejected in last September’s referendum a new draft that was seen by many as moving the country too far to the left.

As the Congress-appointed expert committee prepares to start work on a new version on March 6, we asked Eurasia Group expert Luciano Sigalov what to expect from Chile’s second attempt to rewrite its constitution.

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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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