Compulsory voting eliminated in Chile.
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Compulsory voting eliminated in Chile.

Santiago : Chile | Dec 21, 2011 at 11:36 PM PST
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"The Chilean Congress majority adopted the change in the voting system from one volunteer with automatic enrollment to the age of 18. They believe that they can cover about 5 million more than people. Uncertainty for next elections."

Chile switched its voting system, a voluntary vote rather than mandatory and automatic enrollment upon reaching the 18 years, which according to analysts will be that they can vote nearly five million people--mostly young--which previously did not, adding uncertainty to the next election.

The modification, considered the most thorough reform to the electoral system that dates back to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, was approved by the Chilean Congress, by 15 votes in favour, 8 against and 3 abstentions, at the end of a processing of 13 months which required a prior constitutional reform.

"The National Congress adopted the Act establishing autoenrollment and voluntary voting." "That means that nearly five million in Chile and Chileans who were not involved in our democracy will be citizens entitled to vote," said the President Sebastián Piñera.

The reform ends with the system imposed by the last dictatorship, which established the voluntary registration for those aged 18 years and compulsory voting for lifetime once the process, with strong economic sanctions for those who do not vote.

According to analysts, this reform sought to inhibit the assistance of the popular sectors and ensuring the electoral triumph of the dictatorship, who however lost the plebiscite that sought to perpetuate in 1988, by a massive turnout of voters was never again repeated.

Since that date the Chilean electoral roll has remained almost unchanged and today reaches 8.1 million voters, excluding mainly young people between 18 and 35 years, whose voter turnout reaches just 7%.

Old fashioned pattern

Why the new law means to add to the aged voter Chilean to 4.7 million new potential voters, especially young people.

"This reform undoubtedly means rejuvenate, revitalize and give new strength, a new life to our democracy," said Piñera.

Analysts however predict that a large number of voters will stay out of the elections where voting is voluntary, especially poor and rural, population opening great uncertainty in the next election.

"No one knows with certainty what will happen in Chile." The social sciences are akin to seismology. "We know where there are earthquakes, but we cannot anticipate its magnitude", noted political scientist Patricio Navia.

"Comparative evidence has shown consistently that when installing the voluntary vote, participation is reduced." "Perhaps not in the first election, but over time the participation is falling", explained the political scientist at the Universidad Diego Portales, Mauricio Morales.

The National Youth Institute anticipated that the new Act the electoral participation of young people will rise to 27%.

The voluntary nature of the vote increase also "bias of class" that the Chilean system already has and makes in rich districts to vote more voters than in the poor, he added moral, which also anticipates the increase in the importance of money and a polarization of political campaigns.

"Has been shown that the richest vote more than the poor." This bias exists and now deepen. "Furthermore, the voluntary vote increases the influence of money in politics, because in the absence of sanctions will cost a lot more mobilize people", he explained.

Slope however is one modification of the electoral system to end its binomial character, in a reform also imposed by Pinochet and in practice has excluded minorities and encouraged the creation of two large coalitions, of the right and centre left.

Through this system, wins the election the most voted candidate from a list, whereas to make elected two candidates of the coalition should fold in vote to the other. Thus, the competition between coalitions has been reduced to a minimum and is almost assures the election of a candidate for each block in the various electoral districts.

"We have a huge challenge: perhaps product of this many of us are going to replace in the future, I have no doubt that is going to be brutal changes to how opera Chile policy", said opposition Senator Ricardo Lagos.

Vicky247 is based in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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