In a historic referendum held Sunday, Chileans decided to draft a new Constitution to replace the one enacted in 1981 during general Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, who seized power in 1973 in a coup d’état funded and orchestrated by the United States.

They also chose the mechanism: a Constituent Convention (or Assembly) that includes 155 citizens to be elected this April, with gender parity.

They will have up to a year to deliver a proposal. That text will be put to another vote two months later, this time compulsory.

If the Apruebo option wins again, the new Constitution will come into force 10 days after that plebiscite.

However, if the idea of a new Constitution is rejected, the 1980 text – amended several times after the end of the regime – would remain intact.

President Sebastián Piñera, a conservative billionaire and leader of the right-wing coalition in power, accepted the results from La Moneda, the presidential palace.

In the run-up to this referendum, Piñera avoided to voice a preference, although he said – a few times – that he knew most Chileans wanted to modify the Constitution to some extent.

Accompanied by his cabinet in a televised address, Piñera affirmed that the Constitution had divided the country for years and highlighted this result to be a victory for those who “love democracy”.

Celebrations broke out across the entire territory. Perhaps the largest was the one in Plaza Italia, in Central Santiago, scene of violent clashes with the police after the October 2019 protests.