Jose Antonio Kast (C) speaks to the press about his candidates' victory in an election to elect members of a constitutional council who will draft a new constitutional proposal at the Republican Party headquarters in Santiago May 7, 2023.

The far-right Republican Party, led by José Antonio Kast, secured 22 seats in the 51-member assembly

The far-right Republican Party has won first place in a poll to select members of the body charged with drafting Chile’s new constitution.

The Republican Party won 22 of the 51 seats, with right-wing parties gaining another 11 seats.

The Constituent Assembly is tasked with drafting a new constitution to replace the one introduced during the military rule of General Augusto Pinochet.

A draft from an earlier assembly was rejected in a referendum last year.

The first assembly was dominated by progressive members and many Chileans found their proposals too radical.

The constitution they proposed would have changed many of the country’s institutions, such as replacing the Senate with a Chamber of Regions.

It would also have declared Chile a “plurinational state” and recognized the rights of Chile’s indigenous groups – who make up about 13% of the population – to their lands and resources.

The failed proposal – backed by leftist President Gabriel Boric – also included improved welfare and environmental rights.

Had it been passed, it would have become one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.

But in September 2022, 62% of voters rejected it, leading to Sunday’s election for a new assembly.

Right-wing and far-right parties won 39 seats, compared to 11 seats won by a centre-left coalition. Another seat is occupied by a representative of the indigenous people of Chile.

Far-right Republican Party leader Jose Antonio Kast said his group’s victory was a sign that “common sense ideas have triumphed”.

Mr Kast, who lost to Gabriel Boric in the 2021 presidential election, is seen as a big winner in Sunday’s poll.

From the outset, his party was opposed to changing the current Pinochet-era constitution.

Analysts say the new body will now face an uphill battle to reconcile the ideas of its conservative majority with the call for change that sparked the process in the first place.

Efforts to draft a new constitution began in 2019 after mass protests rocked Chile and caused serious disruption in the country normally seen as a haven of stability in the region.

The new constitution will start work in June and has five months to develop a new constitution based on a draft drafted by experts.

The resulting text will be presented to voters in a referendum scheduled for December.


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