Preliminary results late Sunday showed that Chileans are overwhelmingly supported in drafting a new constitution. With nearly 87% of the votes counted, more than 78% voted in favor of the measure, according to the country’s election service.
A new governing charter was a central demand for vigorous anti-government demonstrations of economic inequality that erupted last year.
“This triumph of democracy should fill us with joy and hope,” Pinera said Sunday night. “Until now, the constitution has divided us. From now on, we must all work together so that the new constitution is a great sign of unity, stability and a future.”
Next April, Chileans will vote in a constitutional assembly to draft the document.
The current constitution of four decades was drafted during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. His opponents say the document has no legitimacy and goes back to a dark and violent period in Chilean history.
Opponents say more than 3,000 people have died as a result of political violence during Pinochet’s rule. He died at the age of 91 in 2006 without being convicted of crimes.
Large crowds gathered at Plaza Italia in Santiago on Sunday night to celebrate the result of the referendum with banners such as “Adiós, General”, images of CNN’s CNN Chile branch showed.
The riots and looting have caused billions of dollars in damage and losses to the country’s business and infrastructure. The riots saw the military take to the streets for the first time since Pinochet’s rule.