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CHILEAN REFERENDUM 2020

What is happening in Chile

On April 26, 2020, Chile is set to hold a plebiscite, officially called National Plebiscite 2020. The plebiscite was proposed by an agreement among the majority of Chilean parties after a month of protests across the country. The objective of the plebiscite is to ask Chilean citizens whether they want to draft a new Constitution (‘Approve’ or ‘Reject’), and to determine the mechanism for said process.

There are two proposed processes:

  • Constitutional Convention: made up by members elected specifically for this convention
  • Mixed Constitutional Convention: made up of both currently-sitting members of Parliament (50%) and citizens specifically elected for this purpose (50%).
  • If a majority of citizens vote ‘Approve’, a second vote on October 25, 2020 would elect the members of the Convention, alongside municipal and regional elections. Convention members will have 9 to 12 months to draft the new Constitution. On March 6th, 2022 (at the latest), a third vote would ‘Accept’ or ‘Reject’ the new Constitution.

    This will be the first national plebiscite in Chile since 1989, when a referendum was held to approve reforms to the Political Constitution of the Republic, promulgated in 1980 during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Hence, it will be the first and only plebiscite held during the democratic governments that followed the Pinochet regime.

    Countdown to the referendum

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    Historic turnout

    Servel historical data (link)

    Do Chileans show up for elections?

    In the democratic history of the country, turnout has been declining. Before 2012, people had to register for voting, but once they were enrolled in the system, voting was compulsory. In 2012, registration became automatic for all citizens at the age of 18, but voting was not compulsory anymore. This caused an impressive decrease in turnout since. Overall, people consistently show up less for local elections (Mayors and local assembly), and more for presidential and congress elections.

    Demographic breakdown of voters. Who wants the new Constitution approved?

    Sources: Cadem, a research, insight and innovation organization in Chile ran telephone surveys to men and women over 18, inhabitants of the 16 regions of the country. (link)

    Sampling:Probabilistic sampling with random selection of individual and previously stratified by region. Sample and weekly coverage 709 cases Error margin of +/- 3.7 percentage points at 95% confidence. A total coverage of 182 communes was reached. 90% of the sample was applied in urban population and 10% in rural population.

    Referendum for a new Constitution

    If the April Referendum to choose whether Chile approves or rejects a New Constitution were next Sunday, what would you vote? (%)

    Overall it seems like as the dates gets closer to April the overall number of people surveyed that will approve a new constitution is decreasing.

    Percentage that will approve the new constitution based on gender on these different dates

    If the April Referendum to choose whether Chile approves or rejects a New Constitution were next Sunday, what would you vote? (%)

    Men were dominating the approval rate but as the date got closer the number of women that will approve the referendum exceeded the men. Women in general tend to be in favor of a new constitution.)

    Percentage that will approve the new constitution based on Socio Economic Class on these different dates

    If the April Referendum to choose whether Chile approves or rejects a New Constitution were next Sunday, what would you vote? (%)

    The trend is promising for the lower class as they increasingly will vote to approve the referendum whereas the trend is declining for the higher and more so for the medium class.

    Will the option to approve a draft of a new Chilean Constitution win according to opinion polls?
    Activa Research says most likely: Yes.

    Sources: Cadem. Encuestas. Plaza Pública (2020) (link) and Activa Research. Pulso Ciudadano (2020) (link)

    Based on the opinion polls from Cadem, the draft of a new Constitution will barely get the 50% minimum for it’s approval on the day of the election, while for Activa Research, the probability of approval would be closer to 63%.

    **This calculation considers past approval rates from both opinion polls and projects the results to April 26th.

    Which voters need to turn out to approve a draft of a new Chilean Constitution?

    The following takes the 2017 National Election results as a proxy for baseline participation rates Source

    Participation by Age

    Are you 18-39 years old? You were the least likely demographic to vote in the most recent national election. More than 60% of possible voters in this age range abstained. Given that 76% of 18-34 year olds would approve, according to Cadem, your vote will be an important part of enabling a constitutional change.

    Participation by Sex

    Are you a man? You were less likely than a woman to vote in the most recent national election.

    Men [56.5%] abstained from voting more than women [50.3%]. Given that 65% of men would approve, according to Cadem, your vote counts in passing this historical referendum.

    **However, it is also important to note that less than 50% of both men [43.5%] and women [49.7%] participated. Greater overall participation is still critical to approval as an outcome.

    Participation by Region

    Are you living in a peripheral region? You were the least likely to vote in the most recent national election. 61.53% of registered voters in Magallanes and 61.1% in Tarapacá did not participate. The destiny of Chile should be in the hands of all Chileans.

    **However, it is also important to note that the central regions did not fare much better with 51.5% in Santiago and 52.7% in Biobío also not participating. No matter where in Chile you call home, your vote matters in deciding the fate of this country.