Participation, decentralisation and innovations in constitution-making: the case of Chile

All over the world, democratic innovations are taking place, particularly at the constitution-making level (Szmulewicz 2012, Eisenstadt 2017). In this context, research has focused on the role of citizens input on the content of the new Constitution, referendums and online digital channels (IDEA 2021). Less attention has been paid to the relationship between citizens participation at the local/grassroots level and the legitimacy of the constitution-making process (Hudson 2018, 2021). This paper addresses this gap by accounting the several democratic innovations that have characterized Chile’s constituent process from its onset: a decentralized working of the Constitutional Convention in several parts of the country, the so-called “territorial week” every month for Convention members, local “cabildos” (town meetings), and direct citizens initiatives (online) for constitutional norms. The advantages as well as the challenges that these examples provide are then analyzed and balanced.