European Studies SMLC HKU School of Modern Languages and Cultures HKU

News & Events

25 November 2020

The Chilean Plebiscite Digested

Date: Wednesday, November 25, 5 PM Hong Kong time / 10 PM New Zealand / 9 AM United Kingdom
Via Zoom at


On October 25, millions of Chileans went to the polls in record numbers to vote to “approve” or “reject” drafting a new Constitution. The existing one had been promulgated by the dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). Chileans voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new Constitution, by 78%. They also decided to institute a completely independent Constitutional Convention by a margin of 79%.
The referendum followed a year of sustained protests demanding structural change in Chile. Since October 2019, and only thwarted by the pandemic, millions of Chileans took to the streets and started a movement that ultimately led President Sebastián Piñera to call the constitutional referendum.
This online seminar critically examines the causes of the revolts in Chile, shedding light on how people from different backgrounds, interests and needs gathered spontaneously to express their discontents against the stringent neoliberalism that rules the country. The seminar also analyses the role of the existing Constitution and how a new one could pave the way for a more democratic and equitable country. Finally, the uncertainty regarding a process that started with the vote but will take two years to accomplish requires analysis.
All are welcome!

Event hosts:
Dr Bárbara Fernández Melleda, Assistant Professor in Latin American Studies, The University of Hong Kong
Dr Roland Vogt, Associate Professor of European Studies, The University of Hong Kong

Guest Speakers:
Dr Walescka Pino-Ojeda, Associate Professor in Latin American Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies, The University of Auckland
Dr Pablo Grez Hidalgo, Lawyer, Research Assistant at the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law, The University of Edinburgh

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