Chile’s Boric reshuffles cabinet after rejecting new constitution | Election News

President Gabriel Boric reshuffled the leadership of six ministries in the first cabinet reshuffle since he took office in March.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric has shaken up his cabinet, less than 48 hours after he was dealt a major blow when citizens overwhelmingly rejected a new progressive constitution he championed.

Boric, 36, reshuffled the leadership of six government ministries on Tuesday in the first cabinet shake-up since he became Chile’s youngest president in March.

“I am changing this cabinet, thinking about our country,” Boric said, qualifying the changes as “painful but necessary”.

“This is, perhaps, I don’t think I need to hide it, one of the most difficult political moments I’ve had to face,” he added.

The shake-up is not surprising, as Boric, who has been a big supporter of the adoption of the proposed constitution, previewed changes coming to his administration in a televised address on Sunday night.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric shook up his cabinet on Tuesday [Luis Hidalgo/AP Photo]

He spoke to the nation shortly after the referendum results showed that Chileans voted overwhelmingly against the proposed constitution.

Nearly 62 percent of voters rejected the text, which is set to replace a Pinochet-era Magna Carta, compared with nearly 80 percent who voted to draft a new one in 2020.

Izkia Siches, the former interior minister, is the biggest name to leave the cabinet but perhaps the most anticipated as her tenure has been marked by controversy. Carolina Toha replaced him.

Another strong ally of Boric, Giorgio Jackson, was removed from the position of general secretary of the presidency and will assume the role of minister of social development; Ana Lya Uriarte replaced him. Boric also swore in the new ministers of health, energy and science.

Meanwhile, hundreds of student protesters demanding a new constitutional convention gathered outside the La Moneda presidential palace ahead of Tuesday’s cabinet reshuffle. The police dispersed them using water cannons and tear gas.

Boric said he plans to draft a new constitution with support from Congress and other political factions.

The opposition said they expected changes in Boric’s team, with some conservative leaders refusing to meet with the president to begin talks on a new constitutional process until there is a change in his government.

Boric poses with new Interior Minister Carolina Toha at the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile.
Boric poses with new Interior Minister Carolina Toha at the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago [Luis Hidalgo/AP Photo]

Although polls had predicted that Chileans would vote against the proposed constitution, the 24-point margin of victory for the rejectionist camp was a shocking rejection of a document that had been three years in the making.

“We must listen to the voice of the people and walk alongside the people,” Boric said.

The process of writing the constitution that Chileans rejected on Sunday began in 2019 when the country erupted in student-led protests, sparked by rising public transport prices that quickly became more widespread. demands for more equality and more social protections.

The following year, less than 80 percent of Chileans voted in favor of changing the constitution.

Then in 2021, they elected delegates to a constitutional convention to write a new charter that would replace the one imposed by a military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet 41 years ago.

Despite the rejection, political leaders on all sides, as well as Chileans as a whole, largely agree that the constitution needs to be changed, but it remains unclear how a new proposal will be written.

Whatever document the new convention produces is likely to be less ambitious than the 388-article proposed charter.

The draft charter describes Chile as a plurinational state, would establish autonomous Indigenous territories, prioritize the environment and gender equality, and introduce the rights to free education, health care and housing, among other issues.