Socialist Collective journalist Patricio Fernandez (52) was one of the 154 conventionalists who drafted the proposal for the new constitution. In the process of discussing the provisions of the Convention, he coordinated the Committee on Communications, Information and Transparency, later joined the thematic committee on fundamental rights, and in May joined the Committee on Harmonization. He was in favor of approving the reform, but on Sunday the text was rejected in a Leave plebiscite.
“He hasn’t won the approval, as far as I understand,” he says at the start of an interview with La Tercera TV, then smiles. “I wake up as a process that continues, not on the path I would have chosen, but one that we know how to move forward,” he continues.
A lot of things. It just so happened that it was a convention born in a moment, born in the intensity of a social explosion that had the characteristics that were somehow inviting, and so inexperience came, anger came, resentment came, and indeed the Convention distanced itself from a society, from a community that seems to want peace and trust. And here there were personalities who invaded, here there was arrogance and statements that did not pay attention to what was happening, something that the social explosion was as if processed in the Convention, and the community went the other way.
And how does this continue…
I have always seen this process not as a beautiful text, but as a matrix of construction that will require its development in another political cycle. Let’s see how this story unfolds. The result is crushing. It’s beyond what anyone thought. It leaves no room for jokes or chants. This is a full force that should be taken as such.
Was Octoberism stuck in the Convention?
Of course, and I would say it even in another way: I don’t know if it was stuck or if it was processed. Because if you think that’s a complicated way to give a reason for this Convention to exist, there was magma left that worked to precisely allow the community to be distanced in some way from that energy. At the beginning of this year, it was already clear to me that the process was longer than what was seen there, because a lot of what was expected to happen was not going to happen there.
Were the members of the traditional parties punished for 30 years?
I don’t know if I would call it the 1930s, but something yes in the sense that what was presented here… Remember that the social explosion was an institutional mega-rupture; that is, if there was anything there, it was “we want nothing from you.” I saw the explosion like this, an explosion of many who want their place on the scene… In other words, they are children of the 30s… 30 years when the Internet appeared, 30 years when it appeared climate crisis, 30 years in which feminism exploded with a force we’ve never seen, 30 years in which identity politics began… In that sense, it was a world that was born in those 30 years.
This magma that was born from the explosion yesterday was widely rejected…
In these times we already know how things go here, it’s surprising that we can’t completely reset the diagnosis before each pick because we’ll make mistakes. The Convention elections were what they were and amounted to something. Immediately after that came the presidential elections and in the first round José Antonio Cast won; in the second, Borich won with the largest number of votes since the restoration of democracy. Parliament was represented by a right-wing majority, which it had never had since the end of the dictatorship. And today this is happening (the result of the plebiscite).
Jimena Rincón states that in the configuration of a new assembly, she does not agree to have lists of independents, but rather to have them in party quotas. Do you think something more reasonable about the reorganization of forces?
It is possible, but I would argue that parties should not be tempted to scapegoat independents. It is possible that the lists are national, there are independents in the party lists, but I do not know the exact decision. They are all worthwhile, but I think it would be somewhat absurd if, in order to avoid party battles, they decided that the enemies were the independents.
I stated some time ago that I do not believe in law. Given the results and what was said, do you still think the same?
I don’t know if I said I didn’t believe him, but I questioned him. What I have seen so far is the ratification of this will (to follow the process) in many of its members. I’ve seen Macaya insist that he has the will, and I want to believe that he has the will. I don’t see the no vote burying that in who we are. There may be people who would be tempted to watch it. Let’s just remember that there is a political sector in Chile that feels very represented by the 1980 Constitution, this is the ideology of one of the founders and leaders of a party. So it’s not so strange that these forces exist and that they might want to “make a few changes instead of a new constitution.”
You said that “conventionals manage to make people dislike”. Does this disappoint you?
It disappoints me and I think they bear a lot of responsibility. From the moment the Convention emerged as a frivolous and unreliable space, everything that emanates from it is easily questioned. That is, a vicious circle is created, and the most exaggerated reading that can be made of a norm begins to gain support. So I think that’s where the seed of it is. I also believe that arrogance lived within the Convention and I think it is very important to do a lot of self-criticism, because by looking at what worked and what didn’t, a lot can be learned for later. I think it would be helpful for the government itself to see what the mistakes and characterlessness are that they are leading instead of supporting. Part of this responsibility lies with political party groups. They were not stronger in fighting for their convictions to accomplish certain things.
I think there are a few who blamed the media. Not much self-criticism was seen.
They’ll have to go looking for her. I think there has to be, more hidden, more than meets the eye in the characters that the press usually goes for.
He noted that the groups and political forces were featureless.
They came beaten and discredited. And so it was as if they wanted to resurrect.
But Broad Front and PC are not necessarily so defeated.
There is an important responsibility there. It is a party of government and as a party of government they had the task of leading, but they lacked character.
He is young and that is an important explanation.
Today, Carlos Peña analyzed what this coup means for the government and said that the Broad Front has not matured politically and that this is a blow to the moral superiority that it has shown for a long time with paternalism and that it leads to contempt.
I think there is a very unbalanced maturation between the president and his coalition. I think the president understands everything we are talking about and has shown it. The speech you gave yesterday is a comprehensive speech. This is not a speech, an apology or an attack, but an understanding of mistakes and needs. I think the coalition is worth more. When Jogio Jackson made that statement, he wasn’t just speaking for himself, he was speaking for a universe, and I think they need to feel that blow now. This is the fastest training the president has had, and it will now put him in trouble. I want to believe that he will work it out with those who have matured with it. Some of these youths have a certain heroic fantasy.
What happened to the conventional members of the Broad Front…
That’s what I mean. It was very difficult for them to distinguish between, “I understand your problem, but I think this is the solution,” and saying, “I understand your problem, and I can’t agree with what you’re saying.”
You have stated several times that the president has a different maturity and understanding of politics than his coalition. This is at a crucial time because there is a change of cabinet and the big question is how much space will he give to democratic socialism.
I take it for granted that it will give you much more. If it doesn’t, I’ll be very impressed if you don’t.
It seems that for the second time there are people who are betting that this is the beginning of the government.
It is possible. First, the president becomes the head of the founding process. Where will you put it to continue to govern and be attentive to citizens’ most pressing concerns. How will you see this and at the same time see the issue of security, inflation or La Araucanía?
Araucanía is the region where Rejection received the most votes.
Always the case. The vote in Punta Arenas seemed more surprising to me, especially for the government. How will an institutional pathway be generated to address this without some thinking that given this slammed door they see no way out?
Those of you who were there, what advice would you give to a new convention?
I saw two problems with the functioning of the Convention. First, this convention had no room for dialogue. For example, there was no dining room, no temporary or physical space where the people who were on the various committees could meet. Second, the blank sheet looks fine to me, but I’m hesitant about infinite blank sheets, ie. this may require network. I hope the next chapter doesn’t completely skip or ignore the previous chapters. The great value I place on the founding process is what it ultimately establishes as a social and cultural arrangement.