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Forecast Podcast: New wave of unrest hits Chile after voters reject new constitution

A photograph of a crowded street at night. There are hundreds of demonstrators on a wide street or plaza. A few dozen are flying the flag of Chile.

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Jaime Calle Moreno discuss the recent protests in Chile, plus more on the UN chief visiting Pakistan, a general election in Sweden, an Israeli settlement hearing and the United Kingdom’s National Grid emergency exercise.

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, Agnese Boffano, Ahmed Namatalla, Cristina Puerta and Jaime Calle Moreno.  Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is September 8th.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got the UN chief visiting Pakistan, a general election in Sweden, an Israeli settlement hearing, the United Kingdom’s National Grid emergency exercise and a look at a new wave of unrest hitting Chile. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

UN secretary general visits Pakistan

Information compiled by Alex Moore

JIMMY: UN chief Antonio Guterres will head to Pakistan on Friday. He’ll be visiting areas that have been impacted by months of historic flooding.

An unusually heavy rain season has resulted in catastrophic flooding conditions in Pakistan since June. 

More than 1,300 people have died and approximately 33 million Pakistanis have been impacted by the floods. Floods that have quickly exhausted Islamabad’s capacity to respond to the catastrophe. 

Estimates indicate flooding has caused at least $10 billion of damages and has further exacerbated food shortage concerns stemming from the Ukraine invasion. Pakistan’s heavily impacted Sindh province produces about half of the country’s food supply.

Now, the UN chief’s visit is intended to rally international support for Pakistan with the UN appealing for at least $160 million in emergency funding for victims. 

And while some international aid has been dispatched, including $30 million from the United States, Islamabad will need significantly more assistance considering the scale of the disaster and Pakistan’s ongoing economic crisis that has been badly exacerbated by the floods.

Sweden general election

Information compiled by Agnese Boffano

JIMMY: Voters in Sweden will head to the polls Sunday. The country’s general election comes as experts fear foreign interference amid rising tensions with Russia.

It’s been eight years since Sweden’s center-left party came to power and once again the Social Democrats are leading the polls with renewed support for incumbent Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. 

She became Sweden’s leader after former Prime Minister Löfven resigned in November. 

Andersson’s popularity has surged following her administration’s decision to break away from the country’s historical neutrality and join NATO alongside Finland in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The country’s Psychological Defense Agency, however, says it saw “increased activity” from outside Sweden, including disinformation campaigns, after the decision to join the alliance.

Now, polls also suggest this round of elections will be tight. Sweden’s right-wing populists are expected to surpass the Moderates in becoming the second largest party in a highly charged campaign focused on immigration. 

Known as the Sweden Democrats, the party has gained popularity in levels not seen since Europe’s 2015 migration crisis amid a surge in crime, shootings and other gang-related activities across the country. 

And although Andersson has gained particular popularity over her administration’s foreign policy, experts say national security issues are at the front of Swedish voters’ priorities. 

National politics could also hinder Andersson’s attempts at forming a coalition government with other left and centrist parties. That is, if a right-wing coalition, led either by the Moderates or Sweden Democrats, gains significant votes.

Israel settlement hearing

Information compiled by Ahmed Namatala

JIMMY: Israeli authorities will hold a hearing on Monday to hear arguments on the proposed building of thousands of homes in the occupied West Bank area. 

Known as E1, it’s a plan that would split the territory in two and make a contiguous Palestinian state on it nearly impossible.

In the absence of peace talks with Palestinians, Israel’s military is moving forward with an expansion of the country’s civilian-populated territory proposed as far back as the 1990s but delayed due to international pressure. 

The most recent postponement came prior to President Joe Biden’s visit in July because of U.S. opposition to Israeli settlement building, though officials have since approved settlements in other parts surrounding East Jerusalem.

Now, the proposed settlement land lies between Palestinian-majority East Jerusalem and and Israeli settlement to its east, which would have the effect of almost separating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. 

The plan would place more than 3,400 Israeli homes in the heart of land recognized by the international community as illegally occupied. Land the Palestinians claim as part of their future state. 

In light of the escalation of violence over the past year, the decision to move forward on the project further sets back efforts for a long-term resolution to the seven-decade-old conflict.

UK’s National Grid emergency exercise

Information compiled by Cristina Puerta

JIMMY: Starting Tuesday, the United Kingdom’s National Grid will hold two days of annual emergency planning exercises amid concerns over winter energy shortages.

The soaring cost of energy due to inflation and Russia’s decision to stop supplying gas to Europe are raising concerns. Concerns about the possibility of having gas shortages this winter in the U.K. 

The objective of the drills is to demonstrate that the gas industry is prepared in the event of a Network Gas Supply Emergency. National Grid, which is the British gas and electricity operator, carries out drills annually to ensure the network is ready to act in different emergency case scenarios. 

Now, this year the National Grid announced that it will double the length of the drill, from two to four days, over September and October. 

Exercises include rationing electricity, so some gas distributors and customers could see an energy reduction during these days. 

Industry insiders link the length of the exercises to the severity of the situation. The government, on the other hand, insists the drills are “normal preparations” that occur every year. 

Mapuche conflict and Chile’s rejection of proposed constitution

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is a look at the recent protests in Chile and how they relate to voters rejecting a proposed constitution. For more on that I spoke with Factal editor Jaime Calle Moreno.

JIMMY: Hi, Jaime.

JAIME: Hi, Jimmy, how’s it going?

JIMMY: Not too bad. I was off for a week and it seems like I missed a fair amount of news. A lot in Chile, especially. I guess to start, can you catch us up to speed on what exactly happened with President Boric’s proposed constitution?

JAIME: Yeah, so the plebiscite, which was on Sunday, was rejected by 61 or 62% of the Chilean population, which is a whole 10 points higher than what, kind of, the ballpark figures were before the actual referendum. Now, this referendum is and was one of the most important political, democratic and social moments, really, that Chile has ever gone through in its history. It’s really trying to change a constitution that has been in place since Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorial reign. So the often talked about constitutional process, which has taken over three years to formalize, was pretty much a part of 77 men and 77 women who were selected by the population and whose sole purpose was to draft this new constitution. Now, to give some context, the constitution, if it would have been approved, would have had some far reaching consequences. For a start, it would have eliminated the Senate entirely and would have created two equal entities: a Congress and a regional, or sort of provincial, chamber of deputies. It would have taken the very, kind of, centralized and hyper presidential system to a much more participatory and direct democratic government. The social reforms were an entirely other aspect with language directly envisaging pro-choice abortion rights, more nationalized education, health care; water, as well, as a common, kind of, unowned good – which is a very important distinction in Chile, and pensions, as well. The most controversial addition, apart from the disappearance of the Senate, was the categorization of the country, much like Bolivia, as a plurinational and intercultural country, recognizing the various indigenous peoples their laws and judicial systems and some type of, kind of, gray area of political autonomy for them. All in all, it’s clear the majority of Chileans want change, but maybe just not so radically.

JIMMY: And this is still the proposed constitution that basically came about in response to the violent protests in 2019, right?

JAIME: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. So the Estallido Social, or what translates to the “social explosion,” were a series of massive rallies, riots and protests that shook the country to its core, from Santiago to almost every single region across the country. It started with students protesting a slight increase in subway fares, which then led to fare dodging and clashes with police across Santiago. This included clashes with police using rubber bullets, firing tear gas, water cannons, you name it. This escalated so quickly that in just a week, the entire country was in a massive state of emergency with military presence everywhere; entire cities and towns closed, police and soldiers clashing with aggravated protesters that were destroying buildings, setting whatever they found on fire and using them as barricades. Effectively, creating an uninhabitable inferno. It lasted for a pretty short time until former President Sebastian Piñero, who kind of was accused of fueling the protests with his rhetoric, called for a referendum to change the constitution and to effectively begin a new era in Chile. The population at that point voted resoundingly to have that referendum and the constitutional process began. Boric’s win in late 2021 was sort of a continuation of these protests and the change Chile society was really seeking.

JIMMY: How have the supporters of the proposed constitution responded to it being defeated?

JAIME: You know, at first surprisingly lightly, but it was only a matter of time before those same protests I just mentioned started up again in response to the results. This past Tuesday and Wednesday we’ve seen consecutive violent protests erupt with very similar characteristics. It’s mostly students clashing with police near Santiago’s presidential palace, the police headquarters, central pedestrian areas, and what they’re calling for is for a new constitutional process and educational reform. Police fired water cannons at them and, until this interview right now, they’ve arrested around 40 people or 45 people. Another, but often disregarded and violent, factor is the attacks conducted by militant indigenous Mapuche groups in the Southern Macrozone area. Now, I won’t go into the details of this conflict too much just because we could, you know, Jimmy, we could be here all day, but it’s been pretty much happening since the 90s. They typically conduct pretty consistent incendiary attacks against machinery, transmission towers. They kind of target big forestry companies, police officers, security forces and sometimes non-indigenous landowners. And it’s very much a fight over what they say is indigenous territory and that their rights are kind of being entirely thrown to the side and not not respected. These attacks have been getting worse over the past couple of weeks, Incendiary attacks are getting more brazen and there was even a pretty bad targeted shooting at a historic mill in Contulmo, where the attackers purposefully began shooting one victim’s leg in order for it to be amputated in the future. Now, this uptick in attacks is due to two reasons. On the one hand, there’s the recent arrest of a militant Mapuche leader called Hector Llaitul, which exacerbated the ongoing conflict, but on the other hand, it was very much to do with the realization that this constitutional vote – which would have given indigenous people in Chile a plethora of rights in writing, of which they haven’t had in the country’s history – was going to be rejected. And so this definitely made the situation worse.

JIMMY: Well, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next?

JAIME: So the rejection was clear and the government has come out really accepting the result. So to begin with, there’s already been a political shakeup in Boric’s government and what will follow are talks and meetings trying to discuss what the best way forward is in terms of creating a whole nother constitutional process in order to present a new revised document. Now this, depending on what avenue they choose, will take time. And it could take a lot of time; creating a new entire body to draft and then the entire process of whether that draft is good enough for the Senate and the government to sign it off, then setting the date for a new vote, and so on and so on. So it’s gonna take time. The way it looks right now, though, we definitely could expect more protests, especially by students, and by default that’s going to lead to more clashes with police. It’s kind of hard to gauge how much these protests will escalate, but if we’re to use what we’ve seen already, it could get worse before it gets better. I’d also say to watch out for more incendiary attacks in the Southern Macrozone, specifically in the regions like Araucania, Biobío, Los Lagos and Los Rios, where, you know, a large Mapuche and indigenous population resides currently. These could happen more frequently, cause economic loss, material damage, injuries, and quite rarely, but also possibly if these attacks escalate, loss of life. And these areas are under states of emergency and so they’ll continue to be militarized as well.

JIMMY: Well, I think we’ll leave it there for today, but thank you so much for the update, Jaime. Appreciate your insight.

JAIME: Thank you, Jimmy. Thanks for having me. 

JIMMY: Take care.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, Agnese Boffano, Ahmed Namatalla and Cristina Puerta. Our interview featured editor Jaime Calle Moreno and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

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