On January 5, a group of 23 senators requested a pronouncement from the Venice Commission – a European advisory body – on the Chilean constituent process. In February, a delegation traveled to Chile composed of the former president of this body, Gianni Buquicchio; the secretary general of this commission, Simona Granata-Menghini; also the coordinator Sergei Kouznetsov; in addition to the rapporteurs Paolo Carozza and Joseph Castellá.
Thus, they worked on a pre-report, which was released on Tuesday, which was ratified this Friday in a session of the plenary of the commission, with some extra details.
The Venice Commission clarified in the document that during the preparation of the report, “there is still no finalized or consolidated text of the new Constitution of Chile. In these circumstances, the Commission’s responses to the Senate’s questions cannot but be rather abstract and general.”
Regarding Congress, the body pointed out that “there is no general rule for or against” unicameralism and bicameralism, but it did emphasize that the bicameral system considers the principle of checks and balances, and that “every very decentralized State needs a second chamber that guarantees dialogue between the center and the periphery.”
It states that bicameralism “is often a response to regional differences, multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism. In a society in which these aspects acquire greater importance, bicameralism is recommended”, but also emphasizes that “the reform of the second Chamber has been more frequent than its suppression”, amid the position of some constituents to move towards a bicameralism, but asymmetrical, without re-editing the Senate.
On the Constitutional Court, he recommends maintaining it, since he says that this platform has “favored the establishment of a separate and specialized Constitutional Court, especially in the newest democracies.” It also advocates the defense of the independence of the judiciary, and also to safeguard the gender perspective and parity in the jurisdictional system. To this is added the assessment in the incorporation of reserved seats in Parliament, a point that the majority of the Convention has defended, but with the rejection of the right.
The Venice Commission also specified that the binary option in the exit plebiscite – I approve and reject – does not exclude the possibility of a third way, that is, multiple options. However, he stressed that the rules established on the exit plebiscite “are currently clear” for citizens, so “changing these rules would run the risk of transgressing the principle of legal certainty.” The above, before the consultation of the senators to be able to include a third option in that process.
“The view of the Venice Commission is that if the possibility of a third option is offered, it should be through political commitments by relevant political actors to carry out genuine reform after the plebiscite, rather than changing the terms of the formal review process at this stage,” he added.
The senator and president of National Renewal, Francisco Chahuán, valued the report and called for “understanding that the Constitution should be a house of all and not a partisan Constitution, and of course we believe without a doubt that the conventional constituent process must contribute to generate legal certainties”, highlighting the signs regarding the parliamentary regime.