Chile: Gender Equality Law Forces Elected Women to Cede Positions to Men

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet delivers the annual presidential message to the Nation, at the Congress in Valparaiso, Chile on May 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images

Chile will remove 11 women from positions on a body meant to draft a new constitution following their election Sunday as a result of a “gender parity” law that requires that body to have a roughly equal number of men and women.

The government of Chile, under pro-China President Sebastián Piñera, moved to do away with its 50-year-old constitution following nationwide leftist riots in 2019 that allegedly began as a protest against a proposed subway fare hike in the nation’s capital, Santiago. Fare protests rapidly escalated into the mass burning and vandalizing of churches, government buildings, and private businesses, resulting in Piñera agreeing to scrap the constitution.

Among the several progressive reforms Chile has implemented during the Piñera era is a law that requires bodies like the constitutional convention to conform to “gender parity,” meant as a nod to feminists who formed part of the far-left coalition fueling the riots. The law requires that each sex not make up over 55 percent of the lawmaking body. The intent of the law was to give more power to women in politics, but its first major implementation will disenfranchise 11 women who won their posts in free and fair elections.

The modified constitutional body, with a significantly larger number of men than the public elected, will consist of 77 women and 78 men, as five men also yielded their seats to women as a result of the law. The “gender equality” law is applied by district, which resulted in both men and women losing spots — some districts elected too many men, but most that required modification of the public’s wishes to abide by the law necessitated the replacement of elected women with unelected men. In those cases, the women with the fewest votes — but still enough to be elected — must give up her seat to the man with the most amount of votes among men.

According to the Argentine news outlet Infobae, in most cases, the men replacing elected women will come from ideologically similar backgrounds to allow voters to receive the kind of representation they voted for. In at least one instance, however — District 13 — the winning female candidate, an independent, will yield her seat to a communist man who received 3,000 fewer votes than her.

Sunday’s Chilean elections delivered a crushing blow to Piñera’s center-right, delivering most of the seats in the body that will write the nation’s new constitution to independents and far-leftists. Of those elected to the legislative body, 53 are members of the leftist opposition and another 48 are “independents.” Piñera’s “Let’s Go Chile” coalition won only 37 of the 155 seats. Greatly over-represented in the body are attorneys, who won 59 seats. Of the new lawmakers, 20 are professors, and nine are engineers.

Chile also held nationwide regional and local elections that resulted in major victories for the far left, including the mayorship of Santiago falling to a Communist Party candidate.

Under Piñera — a pro-business centrist who has not made ideological conservatism a priority — Chile’s right wing has diminished in influence and size considerably. Piñera is currently in his second non-consecutive term as president after trading spots with socialist predecessor Michelle Bachelet — currently the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights — twice. The constitutional convention is the result of a vote in October asking Chileans if they supported the destruction of the current constitution, to which 78 percent said yes in an election with an extremely high turnout. Like the riots that preceded the vote, the elections also attracted violence. Police reported mass arrests of looters and assailants attacking police stations and polling stations.

The protests erupted in 2019 and were allegedly an organic response to the Santiago government’s proposal for an increase in public transit fares. The demand to keep fares at their current level rapidly gave way to demands for a new constitution and widespread attacks on Catholic churches and other religious sites. Leftist rioters burned down one church and sprayed it with satanic graffiti in one of the more violent acts of religious violence of the riots, occurring last October. The Chilean Catholic Church did not take a stand on subway fare hikes and played no role in issues the protests were allegedly about.

Chilean police revealed in 2019 that they had evidence identifying some of the individuals participating in the violence as foreigners from Venezuela and Cuba with ties to the far-left regimes there. Some were illegally present in the country.

“We suspect that, behind that organizing and planning there is a foreign hand. For now, we have detained many Cuban and Venezuelan citizens,” conservative lawmaker Luis Pardo Sáinz told Breitbart News in 2019, “but we also know that the true heads of this, the ones leading and organizing this, are not committing the acts themselves, so we are waiting to untangle what is behind this wave of violence.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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