NID - CHILE: CONSTITUTIONAL PLEBISCITE

Created: 9/11/1980

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Secret

President Pinochet is likely to win today's, plsbisoite onconstitution, but the politioaloosts could outweighto hie military

i The election probably will bewas no known fraudeferendum. An overwhelmingly favorable vote would lend an aura of legitimacy to the regime for the first time in its seven-year history. The constitution: confirms direct milijtary rule9 and (jives Pinochet the option of running for an eight-yearerm at that time. H

onvincing vote also would make it easier for Pinochet to ignore foreign critics, including the countries in the Organization of American States that consideredesolution protesting the plebis-ci'e. In addition/ domestic oppositionho haveno" vote would appear discredited.

1 The referendum, however, also entails serious risks. Some of the regime's Supporters believe that ifpercent "yes" vote Is not obtained, the military would be embarrassed and could demand changes in government policies and' personnel.

The newly aroused opposition is trying toiuse the plebiscite to rally popular discontent. Church-statestrained by recent governmentin response to an upsurge inworsened. Chilean bishops have publicly complained that the plebiscite offers no reasonable alternative to continued military rule if the constitution is.rejected.

Evene winside margin, Pinochet ,may eventually regret providing the oppositionear target. Unless he takes steps in the next fewjmonths to mollify moderateJcritics while isolating more radical opponents, the plebiscite couldollow victory. Pinochet's past harsh treatment of his detractors, however, raisesidoubts about his [ability to neutralize the opposition.!

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