(Bloomberg) -- Chile’s Constitutional Council started work on a new charter Wednesday with a subdued ceremony, marking a sharp contrast to the chaos that accompanied the nation’s first attempt to rewrite its magna carta.

Members of the elected body gathered in downtown Santiago, where they will work for four months on a draft already prepared by a committee of experts. There were no signs of the street protests that held up the inauguration of the previous assembly in 2021 by several hours.

“I am convinced that ending this cycle will do our country good,” Chilean President Gabriel Boric told delegates. “I expect and hope that, during these months of intense work, that you think of the people that you have agreed to represent — of their needs, dreams, anxieties and hopes — and that this proposal manages to consider them.”

But despite the calls for unity and consensus, today’s ceremony masked deep misgivings over the process. Triggered by a social uprising in late 2019, the drive to rewrite the constitution was originally intended to overhaul the free-market model inherited from former dictator Augusto Pinochet. 

Yet the council is now dominated by the Partido Republicano, which has regularly campaigned against changing the existing charter. What’s more, polls already show more people inclined to reject the document in a referendum this December, rather than approve it.

The draft constitution that delegates will debate has little in common with the proposal drawn up by the previous assembly and rejected in September. The multiple references to indigenous groups, gender and social rights have all but disappeared as more conservative forces take over the process.

Read more: Indigenous, Gender Issues All But Vanish in Chile Draft Charter

The newly-elected president of the council, Beatriz Hevia, who is from the Partido Republicano, said the process would be a “meeting point” for Chileans, and that the new constitution must guarantee the liberty and dignity of all people in a deeply divided nation.

--With assistance from Eduardo Thomson.

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