Whatever the outcome, on September 5 we will have institutionally completed the first stage of overcoming the greatest social and political crisis we have experienced since the return of democracy. This is no small feat. To democratically resolve such fundamental discrepancies on how we want to organize Chile's political power is an exception in the history of mankind.

But the challenges that will persist are of greater magnitude than the progress we will have achieved. In order to begin to overcome the polarization that has governed us during the last three years, the first thing we must avoid is to assume that the other half of the population deserves to be politically neutralized for having been defeated by a marginal percentage of votes. Whether the winning or the losing side wins, the winning sectors must show special interest in building together with the defeated.

If the government wins, it is crucial for the ruling party to build bridges of understanding with the various oppositions that this constitutional scenario has configured. These bridges will be doubly useful. First, if it really wants to avoid the weakening of our democracy, they will be useful to complement its brief commitment to reforms to the proposal with many others that were absent. And second, they will be functional to regenerate relations without which governing will be an even bigger headache than the one we have witnessed, since the new Constitution would require close to 60 laws that will have to be approved by majorities that it does not have today.

If rejection wins, the scenario has its own challenges - as many as there are reasons to reject. The transversality among those who opt for rejection is its fundamental characteristic. Among them there are many who approved in the plebiscite at the beginning, longing for significant changes that would improve their welfare; there are Republicans and also others who identify with the center-left; there are those against free abortion, and others who do not approve because of structural disincentives to economic growth. Therefore, a necessary condition to offer paths that represent the majorities of this option -particularly diverse- will be the little eagerness of protagonism in the reading of the facts. No one can take the ball home, because the ball is especially multi-causal, and therefore, with many owners.

Whoever wins, the important thing is to read the victory with moderation and act accordingly. There will not be much to celebrate because there is no time to lose in rebuilding the social cohesion that today is in a terminal state. The understanding to which Ricardo Lagos called for must be the articulating concept of the stage that begins on September 5. This will give hope to the great majorities, who yearn that, through gradual changes, we can overcome the moral and political stagnation in which we find ourselves.

Column by Cristián Stewart, Executive Director of IdeaPaís, published by La Segunda in the September 01, 2022 edition.

Image: IdeaPaís