A Letter From Santiago, Where Chileans Are Seeking a New Constitution

Hopes Are High for Transforming the Country’s Democracy, but the Risks May Be Even Higher

Chile is raising hopes and winning praise worldwide as it elects delegates to a new convention with the goal of replacing the current constitution, a 1980 product of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. But from here in Santiago, where I live and work as a political scientist, the path to a new, and more democratic governing document looks full of dangers, some of them posed by democracy itself.

The high expectations surrounding Chile, population 19 million, now reflect just how distinct its history and present are. It was the first country in the …