Electoral intervention? Chile's Comptroller investigates whether Boric campaigns in favor of the new Constitution

The president of Chile, Gabriel Boric, is being investigated by the Comptroller General of the Republic after the opposition made accusations that he was interfering in favor of the “yes” in the campaign for the referendum of 4 September, when Chileans will decide whether or not to approve a proposal (of a very progressive content) for a new Constitution for the country.

Chile has as one of the pillars of its policy a principle called a dispensation, which establishes that no public official may use public resources or their working hours to favor an electoral option.

Boric’s accusations of electoral interference, for allegedly acting in In favor of “yes”, there are several arguments. One of them is a government campaign, called “Chile Vota Informado”, to publicize the referendum and which includes the distribution of more than 900 thousand copies of the text of the proposed new Constitution.

The president of the conservative Uniao Democrática Independente party, Senator Javier Macaya, asked the government that half of this print run be handed over to the opposition to distribute, but so far he has not received a response.

On Monday (8), Macaya announced the creation of a website to report fake news and electoral interference about the referendum. “The government, in its desperation, committed a series of interventions and fake news using resources of all Chileans”, he said.

Last week, the Comptroller General of the Republic notified Secretary General of the Presidency (Segpres), after a complaint of electoral interference made by deputy Eric Aedo, from the Christian Democratic Party.

Days before, Boric had called on the governing parties to present proposals, through Segpres, for changes in the Constitution if the “yes” win in September, which, according to the parliamentarian, would prove that the government has been working to approve the new text.

In the letter to the Comptroller’s Office in which he asked for an investigation to be opened, Aedo claimed that Boric’s request “is the biggest sign of electoral interventionism I’ve seen since October 1988, in the midst of the dictatorship ”.

The controller general of Chile, Jorge Bermúdez, said that the investigations aim to “determine the correct use of public resources in this period” and the identification of possible irregularities may generate “a complaint to another institution [do Estado chileno] or a judgment of accounts”.

Another fair match between Boric and the Controllership emerged in mid-July, when the president participated of the General Assembly of Municipalities, in which he said that the Chilean municipalities must publicize the proposal for a constitutional change among the local populations.

The Comptroller General then replied that “it is not up to the municipalities to to report on matters outside their functions, such as the constitutional plebiscite.”

Boric argues that he has sought within the law to inform the Chilean population about the proposal for a new Magna Carta.

“The waiver required by the Controllership says that we cannot use public resources to favor one or another option. o, but that everyone has the right to express their political position,” he claimed. “We will fulfill our duty to inform, respecting the Comptroller’s determinations.”

While the Comptroller’s Office is investigating whether Boric’s behavior is electoral interference or not, the rejection of the proposal for a new Constitution has been leading the way in research. The most recent surveys show a ten to 20 percentage point advantage of “no” over “yes”.

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