SANTIAGO – Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet called on Thursday on Chileans living abroad to “actively” participate in the country’s electoral process, something that will be possible for the first time this year, after the passage in October of a law giving citizens living abroad the right to vote.
“I had the honor of being the one who signed and promulgated the constitutional reform that acknowledges the right to vote of our countrymen abroad,” Bachelet emphasized on Thursday upon inaugurating the “International Meeting of Chileans Living Abroad.”
The activity was organized by the “Chile Somos Todos” (We’re All Chile) committee that for years fought to gain the right to vote for citizens living abroad, a move that will benefit some 450,000 people, according to government officials.
Bachelet, besides the reform establishing that right, also managed to get a law approved that will make it possible for Chileans abroad to be able to vote in the presidential primaries set for July 2.
They will also be able to cast ballots in the Nov. 19 presidential election and in national plebiscites to be held in the future.
“We’ve worked all out to make into a reality the principle that Chile is not limited to its territory, that symbolically it extends beyond the borders in each one of you,” Bachelet told those attending the event.
“Finally, we can say that we’re ready,” she said, adding that the Foreign Ministry “is doing the best job possible” so that Chileans living abroad “may effectively exercise their right.”
Along those lines, Bachelet emphasized the participation of more than 3,000 Chileans, living in 29 countries, in the local meetings convened to discuss ideas for a new Constitution.
Those opinions were compiled “and will be an essential input for our new Constitution,” the president said.
According to the law, Chileans abroad who want to vote must register at their closest consulate or with the Investigative Police when entering or leaving the country.
That information will be used to prepare an electoral registry and then electoral boards will be established in all of the country’s 110 consulates around the world.