Voting not to vote

The election on 7 May will not be an unimportant event. On the contrary, it will have special significance for the events that will unfold after that date.
On the political scene, it will have consequences for both the government and the opposition; on the social scene, it will reveal the state of mind of the social movements and their capacity both to react to the demands of the system and their readiness to organise and respond to them in a timely manner.

The election will take place in the midst of a confused political landscape, as no one is unaware that it is the result of an agreement between the government and the opposition, institutions that have neither the respect nor the support of the citizenry and yet persevere in their machinations. Especially now, when the ties between the Parliament and the Executive are being consolidated with the arrival of Álvaro Elizalde as Secretary General of the Presidency, because, as one analyst points out, “Elizalde expresses the definitive conciliation between the government and the opposition, “Elizalde expresses the definitive conciliation of the parliament with the government, making explicit that the civil and parliamentary coup was plotted between the two powers of the State, which will find on May 7 an election without people where, whatever the vote, the Portalian party will win, that is, neoliberal conservatism and neoliberal progressivism always united”.1 The forces that made possible the Agreement between the two powers of the State, the neoliberal conservatism and the neoliberal progressivism, are now in the process of consolidating the ties between the Parliament and the Executive with the arrival of Álvaro Elizalde.

The forces that made last November’s Agreement for Chile possible are growing stronger, at least on the political scene. They care little or nothing about the illegitimacy of the call, to which we have referred in previous documents. And the social movements do not have the strength for it to make a stand against these drawbacks. We have already mentioned the trade unions, central organisations and federations: they have no influence either, let alone the capacity to intervene in the debate.

1. Importance for the opposition.
For the opposition, the event is extremely important because it allows them to check if compulsory voting really suits them or not in order to continue to consider it as a useful element in their political struggles. Something to which the Centre for the Study of Conflict and Social Cohesion had referred when characterising the non-voting population as a group “[…] depoliticised, with a preference for conservatism, with low levels of support for the democratic regime and their political preferences are more unstable” 2 .

2 Such traits have allowed Enrique Correa’s consultancy firm to point out, in this regard:
“In this way, it is likely that they are inclined towards candidates who move away from progressive ideologies and/or follow more conservative lines; in this case, they are inclined towards “Chile Seguro” or the Republican Party list” 3 .

The opposition will thus be able to test the political force that each of the segments into which it is divided possesses, namely Chile Vamos, and those new players that are joining the fray, such as the Republican Party PR, with a membership of 21,020 people, and the De la Gente PDG party, second in numerical importance after the PC, with 45,194 members, according to SERVEL data 4 .

If, as some believe, the Republican party manages to obtain a greater number of constitutional councillors than the Chile Vamos pact, this would be nothing short of an unprecedented catastrophe for the latter:
“The great political earthquake would be for the Republican Party to gain more votes than Chile Vamos” 5 .
The fear of losing the hegemony of its political representation pervades Chile Vamos, according to La Tercera:
“In Chile Vamos they recognise that the Republicans could become the most voted party on the right, and perhaps in the country, but that this will be exclusively due to the fact that they compete on a single list and carry 72 candidates throughout the country. They, on the other hand, have the same number of competitors, but divided into three parties, as do the pro-government parties, which compete divided into two pacts” 6 .

In fact, as one newspaper points out, “For the Republicans, these elections are a great opportunity to generate identity, to become the most voted party in the country and to dispute the hegemonic role and the narrative of the Chilean right” 7 .

2. Importance for pro-government sectors
For the pro-government sectors, the importance of the election is relative.
Given that there has been no major support for the propaganda presented by the ruling party in the so-called ‘electoral strip’, and for the information on the event, some media have interpreted this attitude as a certain disaffection towards the elections on the part of the Executive.
“In early April, La Moneda told Ex-Ante that there was not much interest in setting a communications programme. The situation is different – according to government officials – in view of the next exit plebiscite, to be held in December of this year, when they do expect to have a greater media coverage” 8 .

It is possible that this is the reason. But if the Apruebo Dignidad pact participated in the signing of the Agreement for Chile, together with the opposition, it does not seem that such disaffection is possible. Unless there is an its interior crisis that has not yet manifested itself in all its intensity and of which there are certain signs. This seems to be the view of an old analyst of the Concertación who, in a clumsy analogy, points out:
“This is a strange conjuncture, dominated by guilt, trauma and fear, in which the Frente Amplio behaves with President Boric in a lethally similar way to that of the socialists with Salvador Allende during the Popular Unity (1970-1973)” 9 .

There are members of this pact who feel no attachment whatsoever to the Agreement for Chile and, privately, say they are prepared to turn up at the election and cancel their vote.

The truth is that the public’s interest does not seem to coincide at all with that of the ‘political elite’. The polling company Activa Research reported, a short time ago, that the scenario was not favourable. Pulso Ciudadano found that only 20.9 per cent were in favour of the process, 52 per cent said they did not know yet, and 27.1 per cent were against it. The latest survey by the same company did not substantially change these estimates:
“One of the most interesting data left by this new edition of the citizen consultation was that 29.8% of the people surveyed say they are interested or very interested in the new constituent process, while 22.3% said they were moderately interested and 47.9% not at all or not very interested” 10 .

The study carried out by the company Criteria has been equally devastating. According to it, “[…] only 31% of Chileans said they were interested in the process of drafting a new proposal for the country’s constitution” 11 .

“…] interest in the election of constitutional councillors, the people in charge of creating the new proposal to be plebiscited, dropped from 66% in 2021 to 30% today” 12 .
12 “[…] of those who voted “I approve” in the last exit plebiscite, 47% said they are not clear why they will vote, 38% said they will approve again and 15% will reject. Of those who voted “I reject” on 4 September, 51 per cent do not know why they should vote, 41 per cent will reject again and 8 per cent will approve” 13 .

Surprising? No. Not at all. The ‘political elite’ is fully aware of this. Michelle Bachelet’s former advisor, Juan Carvajal, points this out with absolute frankness:
“There is a growing alienation of the citizenry around what parties and candidacies express. This connection between the political elite and the citizenry is not going to happen, especially because of an issue that a large part of the population has already considered to have been overcome, not because it has been resolved, but because it has ceased to be of interest to them”.14 This view is similar to that of Juan Carvajal.

This view is similar to that of the president of EVÓPOLI when she states:
“Electoral fatigue is real, the discrediting of the political system is also real, as is disaffection with mechanisms that are perceived as distant from the citizenry’s work” 15 .

The data provided by the latest surveys, to which we had access before submitting this work, are not very different from those previously mentioned: disinterest in the elections is so evident that the CEO of Criteria, Cristián Valdivieso, did not hesitate to point out, in the Mesa Central programme of 09 of this year, that “There is a high risk of a new constitutional disengagement” 16 .

Let us look at some of these results.
On 17 April, the company ‘Research Chile’ reported that only 35% of those polled had defined their candidate and that 18% would do so at the time of voting. Pulso Ciudadano’, of 16 April, indicates that 47.9% have little or no interest in the May elections, and 62.5% recognise that they have little or no confidence in the constitutional process. Panel Ciudadano’ indicates that 46% of those surveyed had not yet decided how they would vote as of 9 May and that, of these, 17% said they would not vote. Criteria’, on the other hand, reported on the 9th that only 31% have an interest in the constitutional process. Data Influye’ breaks this tendency a little, since in its survey of the 5th of this month, it indicates that 62% have an interest in the election. Cadem’, in its work of 16 April, only asks her about the election 17 . These criteria do not differ from those expressed by Paulina Valenzuela, of ‘Datavoz’, for whom this election
“…] is going to be strange: low interest, low knowledge and preoccupied with other issues” 18 .

As a corollary to this whole universe of data, the ‘Feedback’ survey reports that
66% say they do not know any of the candidates from their region who will compete in the 7 May elections for the Constitutional Council, 23% know “very little” about the candidates, 9% know “some of the candidates”, and only 9% know “some of the candidates”.
“some of the candidates” and only 2% know “all the candidates”.
“…] 72% say they are “sure” to vote in the elections (which are compulsory) and 18% are “probably” to do so. Four per cent say they are ‘certain’ not to vote and another four per cent say they are ‘probably’ not to vote”.


Few should be surprised by the national community’s disaffection with this new constituent process (which should be called ‘constituent fraud’), in the generation of which its main actor – the people – has been absent. The illegitimacy of the convocation is manifest: it allows the functioning of a Committee of Experts and an Advisory Council – bodies whose existence can only be explained by the ancestral contempt felt by the ruling classes for the dominated, whom they consider incapable of administering themselves – and deprives the social organisations of presenting their own candidates: the ‘political elite’ feels it has the divine mission to ‘give the people the constitution that suits them’, namely “[…] a replica of the 1933 Constitution, of the authoritarianism of the 1925 Constitution and a neoliberal replica of the 1980 Constitution, but minimally expanded and reinterpreted under a form of expanded focus, which some will think is the translation of the slogan called the Social State of Law (…)” 20 .


The call for the election of a Constitutional Council on 7th May next, which will debate a draft previously drawn up by both the Committee of Experts and the Advisory Council, contravenes Article 5, paragraph 1, of the current constitution, according to which, “Sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation. If exercised by the people through plebiscite and periodic elections and also by the authorities established by this Constitution”.
The ‘authorities’ can only exercise that sovereignty in accordance with the powers granted to them by the constitution itself. When these powers are exceeded, the act is null and void. Hence the illegality of the convocation.
The illegitimacy of the same originates from the fact that the Congress supplants the popular will, the will of the ‘people’, which is none other than the Nation referred to in Article 5.
It could be assumed that such a legal aberration was the product of a clumsy interpretation of the Constitution and the assumption of good intentions on the part of the ‘political elite’. But this is not the case. Parliament is a corrupt institution: already in 2019, it had only 3.2 per cent of citizens’ support, a figure that has risen with difficulty in recent years. It is, therefore, an unworthy act, an immoral act, a constitutional fraud carried out by those who have usurped powers that have never been conferred on them and dragged, in this act, the entire citizenry and that Karmy does not hesitate to call it a ‘coup d’état’: “I believe that what happened here was a coup d’état of a civil and parliamentary nature that was articulated from the Senate of the Republic that protected and reconstituted the political class, so that it could confiscate and control the constituent process. The citizens were confiscated what they had decided by popular will in the plebiscite of entry and exit, because in the plebiscite of exit the citizens did not say that they wanted an agreement for Chile and that the political parties had to reach an agreement. What they said was that they rejected the
constitutional proposal and that should have implied a new, equally democratic, constituent process”.21


The May 7 elections will certainly be important. We have already stated this in the course of this work. There is no doubt that a high percentage of citizens will take part in the election, since voting is compulsory and, naturally, voters will go to the polls not of their own free will but because they are obliged to do so. A former undersecretary in the Piñera government acknowledges that this will be the case:
“[…] a lot of people will participate, just as they did for the September plebiscite which was over 80%, but there are small differences. Last year we had a high turnout and a high number of valid votes, and I believe that today there will be a high turnout, but a higher null and blank vote than last time, because this election is more complex”.22 It should come as no surprise that the so-called ‘left’ will have a higher turnout than last time.
22 It should come as no surprise that the so-called ‘left’ turn out to vote for their candidates, heeding the call of the ‘elite’: they are the resonance drum of the ‘elite’, as well as the ‘support class’; their vote will consummate the fraud.

For those like us who reject the call as illegal, immoral and illegitimate – it is a matter of dignity – there are three options: the first is simply not to vote.
For those who do so, the penalty they risk will not be imprisonment, but fines which, if they are not paid, can lead the relevant court to issue arrest warrants against the offenders.
It is therefore not an advisable option.
For those of us who repudiate the call and want to avoid paying fines – or eventual imprisonment for non-payment of fines – the most advisable option is to vote for two or more people simultaneously. The vote is automatically annulled. And, of course, if the mood takes you, you can write a short phrase on the ballot paper, draw an allusive drawing or a symbol of protest, in short. In this way, we will find ourselves making an apparent contradiction in terms: voting not to vote.
Finally, there remains the option of a blank vote which, in any case, will be counted as such.
The no end result will show, as we have said, the tendencies of the electorate. And these will be key to the events that will have to take place after the election event.

1 Karmy, Rodrigo: “Elizalde”, ‘La voz de los que sobran’, 19 April 2023.
2 Editor: “Las predicciones de la consultora de Enrique Correa para las elecciones de constituyentes”, ‘ExAnte’, 12 April 2023.
3 Editor’s note: Art. cited in (1).
4 The PDG has tried to show an independent face, but the majority of its interventions have been in support of conservative policies. The Republican party has been reluctant to form lists with Chile Vamos, which is why the representation of the class of buyers of force or capacity for work will go to the polls on 7 May divided into two lists.
5 Mesa de Noticias: “Exministro Viera-Gallo: ‘El gran terremoto político sería que el Partido Republicano remove it more votes than Chile Vamos’”, ‘El Mostrador’, 31 March 2023.
6 Quezada, Juan Andrés: “Chile Vamos y Republicanos se enfrentan en todo el país el 7 de mayo: la silenciosa pero ruda disputa por el poder en la derecha”, ‘La Tercera’, 16 April 2023.
7 Quezada, Juan Andrés: Art. cited in (6).
8 Tralma, David: “La escuálida campaña informativa para las elecciones constituyentes”, ExAnte, 17 April 2023.
9 Joignant, Alfredo: ‘El Frente Amplio chileno: las restricciones del experimento’, ‘El País’, 17 April 2023.
10 Gutiérrez Areyte, Horacio: “Encuesta Pulso Ciudadano: Sólo un 29% se muestra interesado en el nuevo proceso constituyente”, ‘El Desconcierto’, 16 April 2023.
11 Editor: “Encuesta Criteria arrojó alarmante desinterés en el nuevo proceso constituyente”, Radio U de Chile, 09 April 2023.
12 Editor’s note: Art. cited in (11). Bold in the original.
13 Editorial: Art. cited in (11).
14 Estrada, Max: “Juan Carvajal sobre campañas al Consejo Constitucional: ‘Hay un alejamiento cada vez mayor de la ciudadanía en torno a lo que expresan las candidaturas”, ‘ExAnte’, 25 March 2023.
15 Hutt, Gloria: “Las razones tras el escaso entusiasmo electoral”, ‘The Clinic’, 22 April 2023.
16 Espinoza, Camilo: “Elección de Consejeros Constitucionales: Qué dicen las encuestas a 20 días del día clave”, ‘El Desconcierto’, 18 April 2023. Bold in the original.
17 Espinoza, Camilo: Art. cited in (15).
18 Interview in ‘La Segunda’, 20 April 2023, p. 11.
19 Editorial office: “Encuesta Feedback-UDP: 66% no conoce a candidatos de elecciones constituyentes y 83% está ‘poco’ o ‘nada’ informado del proceso”, Ex Ante, 22 April 2023.
20 Editorial staff: “Rodrigo Karmy: ‘Tendremos una nueva Constitución muy parecida o peor que la de 1980′”, Radio U de Chile, 16 April 2023. Bold in the original.
21 Editorial: Art. quoted in (18). Bold in the original.
22 Editorial: “Rodrigo Ubilla y elecciones 7M: ‘Desaparecerá la centroizquierda no aliada al Partido Comunista’”, ‘El Libero’, 22 April 2023.
23 Fines range from $31,537 to $189,922.

Manuel Acuña Asenjo