Covid-19: Chile puts off landmark elections over coronavirus concerns

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, pictured in March 2021, received the backing of parliament after proposing a delay in the vote to choose who will rewrite the country's constitution
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera

SANTIAGO, April 8 (NNN-Xinhua) — Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera announced that the landmark elections on this weekend for councillors, mayors and, for the first time ever, regional governors and members of a constituent assembly to draft a new Constitution, will be postponed until May 15-16 due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

In a speech at the government palace, Pinera said the decision prioritizes the health of both the country’s democracy and its people.

“Given the strong re-emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and the appearance of new variants, not only in Chile, but throughout the world, and considering the high demand our health system is facing … it did not seem prudent or advisable to hold elections this coming weekend,” he said.

The much-anticipated elections are set to elect 155 constituents to draw up a new Constitution as a political solution to the social unrest that erupted in October 2019.

Similarly, the governors of each of the country’s 16 regions will be elected for the first time.

According to Pinera, a high abstention rate would mar the elections if it were to be held this weekend.

“And a high abstention, without a doubt, affects the health of our democracy,” added the president.

Chile’s pandemic death toll stands at 23,734, while 1,037,780 cases of COVID-19 infection have been registered since the onset of the outbreak here in March 2020. — NNN-XINHUA