Sebastian Pinera’s ruling coalition suffered heavy losses last month in the election of representatives for the drafting of the constitution.
The outgoing president of Chile has urged 155 representatives to do the drafting a new constitution for the South American nation to abandon “trench politics,” maintain an open dialogue, and reach agreements.
In his annual speech on the state of the nation on Tuesday, center-right President Sebastian Pinera said he would convene the new body “in the coming days.”
He said he hoped the Constitutional Convention would “strictly respect the limits and rules” of its mandate and preserve the rights, opportunities and freedoms of all Chilean citizens.
“An agreement will only be possible if we are willing to talk and listen to each other and abandon the politics of the trenches so that history remembers (the convention) as those who forged powerful agreements and a better future for Chile,” he said.
Last month he took charge of the Chileans to choose representatives to replace the current constitution, which was written in the 1980s during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Representatives, who were part of more than 1,300 candidates, will have nine months to write a new document. He will then undergo a mandatory plebiscite.
“I want to participate in any way I can in shaping the future of our country,” voted Monica Manriquez, 83, he told Al Jazeera coming from a polling station in Santiago on May 16. “Elections significantly define the destiny of a nation.”
Although Pinera’s ruling coalition, Chile Vamos, had promised to win at least a third of the seats in the Constitutional Convention, it suffered a shocking loss at the polls.
Most of the seats were for independent left-wing candidates, including many of the social groups that came out Protests of 2019 against inequality.
In his speech, Pinera said that while respecting the autonomy of the body, he hoped to safeguard the rights to water and property, along with the rights to health, quality education, housing, employment and social benefits.
Also Tuesday, Pinera announced plans to push for a same-sex marriage bill that has stalled in the historically conservative country for years.
“I think the time has come for an egalitarian marriage in our country,” he said during his speech.
“All people, regardless of their sexual orientation, will be able to live, love and form a family with all the protection and dignity they need and deserve.”
His government’s popularity has fallen amid coronavirus-related poverty and unemployment, as well as its attempts to block citizens from their private pensions.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the country has reported more than 29,300 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 1.3 million cases.