A group of world-renowned economists and social scientists published an open letter Wednesday hailing Chile’s draft constitution as a transformative document that—if granted final approval by the Chilean people on September 4—would serve as a “new global standard” on fighting the climate crisis and pervasive inequality.
Signed by Thomas Piketty, Jayati Ghosh, Gabriel Zucman, and other luminaries from across the globe, the new letter praises the proposed constitution as a “visionary product” from which the rest of the world “has much to learn.”
“For the first time, a constitution recognizes care work, social reproduction, and women’s health as fundamental to the prospects of the economy,” the letter notes.
The experts proceed to cite the 178-page document’s approach to “public services and social security” as “another source of inspiration.”
“By establishing new institutions for the provision of universal public services like education, health, and social security,” the letter reads. “Chile successfully applies the lessons of recent history that show the importance of these services for both short-term economic resilience and long-term economic growth.”
A 154-member assembly finalized the newly proposed constitution in May following a lengthy and contentious process kicked off by a 2020 plebiscite, in which Chileans overwhelmingly voted to replace the right-wing constitution that the Pinochet dictatorship—ushered into power in a U.S.-backed coup—foisted upon the country decades earlier.
“This is an ecological and equal constitution with social rights at its very core,”
María Elisa Quinteros, the president of the assembly, said of the new document in a recent interview with The Guardian.
Months before the new document was completed, leftist Gabriel Boric won the Chilean presidency on a vow to bury neoliberalism, a resounding signal of the public’s desire for sweeping change in the deeply unequal nation.
While neoliberal mouthpieces such as The Economist—which actively helped foment the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power—have criticized the newly proposed constitution as a “left-wing wish list” that poses a threat to the nation’s “business climate,” expert observers have applauded the text as remarkable and historic, given its recognition of the government’s obligation to fight the climate crisis, provide free public education, and protect Indigenous people and other vulnerable groups.
In their letter Wednesday, the top economists and social scientists write that
“taken together, we believe that the constitution creates a legal framework that will succeed to prepare Chile for a new century of equitable growth, with provisions to attract investment, protect financial stability, and promote development for all Chileans.”
Read the letter in full below:
We, economists and social scientists from around the world, commend the Chilean constitutional convention and the visionary document it has produced to secure sustainable growth and shared prosperity for Chile.
We believe that the new constitution sets a new global standard in its response to crises of climate change, economic insecurity, and sustainable development. The economic provisions of the constitution would represent gradual but substantial advances for the people of Chile.
The approach to gender in the constitution marks a major step forward in the economic model of development. For the first time, a constitution recognizes care work, social reproduction, and women’s health as fundamental to the prospects of the economy.
The approach to public services and social security is another source of inspiration. By establishing new institutions for the provision of universal public services like education, health, and social security, Chile successfully applies the lessons of recent history that show the importance of these services for both short-term economic resilience and long-term economic growth.
The constitution’s tax policy mandates promise to tackle Chile’s economic inequality—among the highest in the OECD—while upgrading the country’s revenue to OECD standards, reducing dependency on extractive rents and contributing to sustainable public finances.
The approach to work represents an important and democratic response to our times. By enshrining rights to work and collective action, the constitution aims to redress the crisis of precarity that afflicts economies around the world.
Finally, the approach to central banking sets a new global benchmark. By enshrining a mandate the takes account of financial stability, employment protection, and environmental care, the constitution establishes a responsible framework for central banking that is fit for the 21st century.
Taken together, we believe that the constitution creates a legal framework that will succeed to prepare Chile for a new century of equitable growth, with provisions to attract investment, protect financial stability, and promote development for all Chileans. The world has much to learn from the exemplary process of the convention and the visionary product on which Chile will vote in its September plebiscite.
Teaser photo credit: By Ministerio Secretaria General de Gobierno – Flickr: Palacio de la Moneda 5, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18573247
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