Chile Government and Politics

According to, Chile is a unified state and a democratic republic. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of CI and its meanings of Chile. Following the constitution of 1981, with amendments by 2005, the executive has been appointed a president- elect for four years. The president must be over 40, born in Chile and cannot be re-elected immediately. The president elects the government ministers in his government. Legislative power has been added to a national congress consisting of two chambers – a 120-member House of Representatives, elected to the general election for four years, and a Senate of 38 members, elected for eight years (half of whom are elected every four years).

The congress is located in Valparaíso, approx. 140 km from Santiago towards the coast. There is a general voting right from the age of 18. The judiciary is independent and includes anchor law, a military justice system, a constitutional court and a Supreme Court. The legal system is mainly based on continental European principles and French, Spanish and Austrian law.

Chile Country Flag

Reference: Chile Flag Meaning


Chile is a centrally controlled country. Administratively, it is divided into 15 regions, including the metropolitan area, each with its intendant elected by the president. The regions are usually numbered with increasing Roman numerals (I-XII) from north to south. The exception is the capital Santiago, called the Región Metropolitana (RM). In addition, two new regions, Arica and Parinacota (XV) in the north and Los Ríos (XIV) in the south, were founded in 2006 and made operational from October 2007.

The regions are again divided into provinces (53 in total), with a governor elected by the president. At the local level, there are 342 municipalities administered by municipal councils, each with its mayor elected by the inhabitants of the municipality.


After independence from Spain in 1818, Chile was ruled by the landowner elite throughout most of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the country was one of Latin America’s most stable and democratic regimes. However, the policy was characterized by great tensions between the right and left sides. This stability came to an abrupt end with the military coup in 1973 and the subsequent military dictatorship, which lasted until 1989.

After the reinstatement of democracy in 1989, the moderate center-left forces dominated politics with party coalition La Alianza in spissen.Denne coalition is basically an amalgamation of the parties that fought against the dictatorship and was behind the NO side in the referendum in 1988 on Augusto Pinochet’s military regime. The important parties in this coalition are: Christian Democrats (Partido Democracia Cristiana, PDC), a typical center party that has sympathizers across social classes and plays on Christian values ​​and mixed economics. The first two democratically elected presidents after the dictatorship were Christian Democrats: Patricio Aylwin and Eduardo Frei Ruíz-Tagle. The Socialist Party (Partido Socialista, PS) is the most important party on the left. Both Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet come from the Socialist Party. And the Democrats (Partido por la Democracia, PPD), which was formed during the dictatorship because the Socialist Party was banned. Politically, it is close to the Socialist Party. Prior to the 2014 presidential election, the Communist Party and some other smaller parties on the left were incorporated into the coalition and it changed its name from La Concertación to La Nueva Mayoría (The New Majority).

The right side consists mainly of the two parties that emerged among the supporters of the Pinochet dictatorship before and during the referendum in 1988. These are the Renovation Party (Renovación Nacional, RN) and the Independent Democratic Union (Union Demócrata Independiente, UDI).. This right-wing coalition has changed its name many times in 2017, it went by the name “Chile vamos”. Following the reintroduction of democracy, the right-wing coalition has won the presidential election once, with Sebastián Piñera in 2010.

The political contradictions in Chile are less than in most other Latin American countries, but the lack of settlement with dictatorship representatives, unrest over persistent poverty and unemployment problems and growing environmental problems are destabilizing factors. Chilean politics is otherwise characterized by strong interest groups, such as landowners, trade unions, the Catholic Church, students and business groups.


Chile’s congressional elections are conducted through a binomial system where 2 senators and 2 members of the House of Representatives are elected from each electoral district. Historically, the two largest coalitions (Concertación and Alianza por Chile) have divided each electoral district. Only when the leading coalition wins by a margin of more than 2 to 1 does it receive both representatives from a district. The electoral system and the formation of the large coalitions means that not all political parties are represented in the national assembly.

Sebastian Piñera, multi-millionaire and right-wing coalition representative Coalition for Change took office as the right-wing’s first lawfully elected president by 51.6 percent of the vote in March 2010. Piñeras expressed his desire to reduce the state apparatus, crack down on crime, and be remembered as the president “created a million jobs”.

In 2013, Michelle Bachelet had another opportunity to stand as presidential candidate under the Constitution. She won a clear victory over the right-wing candidate, Evelyn Matthei.


The courts have traditionally been independent in Chile. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court with 21 members. These are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. The court selects its leader. There are 17 appeals. These judges are appointed by the president after the Supreme Court nominations. The judges of the lower courts are appointed on the suggestion of the appellate courts. The legislation is based on Spanish examples; Criminal law is increasingly influenced by the United States.


The Chilean Constitution was introduced after a referendum in 1980 and came into force in 1981. Several questions have subsequently been questioned about the legitimacy of the Constitution, especially by leftist parties, who argue for making major modifications. Still, the Constitution is accepted by the majority of political Chile. Amending the Constitution in many cases requires more than a simple majority in the National Assembly. This applies for example. points relating to the electoral system, political parties, basic principles of the administrative system, the army, the congress, the education system and the courts.

After 1989, however, constitutional amendments were made to make it easier to make legislative amendments. Children born abroad by exile Chileans are now entitled to Chilean citizenship. In 2005, under President Ricardo Lagos Escobar, some of the less democratic points of the Constitution were rewritten, while the fundamental principles regarding state and nationwas retained: the presidential term was reduced from 6 to 4 years, the appointment of senators for life was abolished and the president was again granted the right to dismiss the commander-in-chief of the army. The National Security Council to ensure the democratic order in crisis situations consists of the President, the Chief of the Army, the Commander-in-Chief of the Police, the President of the Senate, the President of the Supreme Court and 5 Ministers without voting rights. A court oversees the political parties and has the right to ban parties that come forward with totalitarian ideologies.


Defense has decreased in volume, been modernized and put under political control following the re-introduction of democracy. The military forces are controlled by the president through the defense minister, but still have a relatively large influence. The defense is divided into three: the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Until 2006, it was conscripted, but this was changed to voluntary recruitment. Defense spending has been reduced from around 8% of GDP under Pinochet to approx. 3-4% today. Although there has been no war since the Salpeter War (from 1879 to 1883), Chile is among the countries that spend most on defense relative to GDP. Much of this is funded by the state copper company CODELCO, which provides support with 10% of its annual export revenue. The Pinochet regime let the police forces (carabineros) under the Department of Defense. The police are now formally under the Ministry of the Interior, but in practice remain under the control of the Ministry of Defense.

General Augusto Pinochet, former military dictator in Chile, died on December 10, 2006, at the age of 91. He was never brought to justice for human rights violations through persecution, torture and murder during his 17-year term as leader of a military regime from 1973 to 1990. In 2005, however, the military accepted responsibility for previous assaults, and some Right-wing politicians have now renounced human rights violations during the dictatorship. In August 2007, General Hugo Salas Wenzel was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Supreme Court in Chile. He was accused of being an accomplice in the killing of 12 opponents of Pinochet. Salas Wenzel is the first member of the dictatorship regime to receive a life sentence.

Pinochet has had strong support in parts of the population, the military and among politicians even after the dictatorship. But lately his popularity has waned. It is due to as much corruption as human rights violations; the dictator was never held liable for the multi-million dollars he kept hidden in Riggs Bank in the United States under false names and in the names of family members. The court in October 2007 granted conditional freedom to six of Pinochet’s family members, the five children and the widow, as well as 16 of his partners in the Riggs case.

International relations

Since 1989, Chile has played a more active role in the international political arena, including serving on the UN Security Council in 2003-2004. The country has contributed to the UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, India/Pakistan, the Middle East, Montenegro and Serbia, and supported the establishment of the Peace Building Commission in the UN system. On May 21, 2008, Chile was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2008-2011.

Chilean José Miguel Insulza was elected Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) in May 2005. Chile has held several international political conferences, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2004. The country was associated in 2007 with The Andean Community (CAN) and in May 2008 took over the presidency of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Chile has opened up its economy to a large extent, is a member of several international economic organizations and has an important role to play. international economic issues and free trade agreements. The country is making increasing efforts in the UN and in various regional forums, while at the same time taking into account its own foreign policy and economic interests.


Chile and Argentina have had a better relationship in the past than in a long time. The fact that both states are now democracies has weakened military forces, and both countries’ female presidents have expressed their willingness to cooperate in several areas.

In the 1960s, Chile and Argentina entered into a territorial dispute over the small islands of Picton, Lennox and Nueva in the far south of the Fire Land, and in 1978 the disagreements were close to triggering a war. During the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina four years later, Chile provided assistance to British troops, which made the relationship even worse. In 1984, after mediation through the Vatican, a peace agreement was signed between the two neighbors, concluding that the three islands should continue to be Chilean. Nevertheless, there have been several instances of disagreement over the southern border in recent times.

Chile began buying gas from Argentina in the 1990s, and has subsequently become dependent on this energy import. In 2004, Argentina experienced for the first time certain problems in meeting its own gas needs, and Chile can therefore hardly rely on this supply in the future.

Since Chile became a member of MERCOSUR in 1996, trade between the two countries has increased significantly. Chile has also increased its investments in Argentina. Since 1990, the two, together with Brazil, have developed a military cooperation. In 1991, the Mendoza Declaration, which includes the use of chemical and biological weapons, was signed. The three countries have also had joint military exercises in Argentina and Chile.


The relationship between Chile and Bolivia has been poor ever since the War of the Nets (1879-1883), when Bolivia lost its coastline to the Pacific Ocean. The countries cut their diplomatic relations in 1978 because of this old battle issue, and conditions have not yet been normalized. In recent years, however, there has been some softening. Trade has increased significantly, and former President Michelle Bachelet and Evo Morales have had several meetings.

Bolivian gas may play a key role in the conflict in the future with Chile’s somewhat uncertain access to Argentine gas purchases. However, Bolivia has expressed that the country is not interested in exporting gas to Chile.


Chile’s bilateral relations with Peru have been better than with Bolivia, but some cases have put the situation to the test. In 2005, the Peruvian Congress adopted new bases for the country’s maritime border with Chile. Chile strongly objected to this, pointing to agreements from the 1950s that must clearly define the divide between the two countries. In January 2008, Peru brought the baseline question before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The trial can take several years. New Peruvian President Alan García has nevertheless expressed his desire to improve relations with Chile and place less emphasis on the border issue.

Chilean companies have invested large sums with their neighbor in the northeast in recent years, and in March 2009 a free trade agreement was signed between the two countries.

United States

The United States is important to Chile on several levels, and bilateral relations are generally good. The United States is, among other things, the largest foreign investor in Chile. The United States supported the introduction of democracy in Chile in 1989, although the country’s role during the coup d’état 16 years earlier is widely debated.

The countries cooperate closely, and Chile is an important partner for the US in South America. The free trade agreement signed in 2004 is an example of the close relationship. However, Chile does not support the United States on all issues, e.g. the war in Iraq.


The relationship between Norway and Chile can be characterized as good, and has a history of relatively much political, cultural and economic contact, given that the countries are on each side of the globe. A number of historical ties help link the countries together. In the years following the military coup in 1973, thousands of Chileans fled to Norway. Many of these have returned to their home country in recent years. In January 2009, around 260 Norwegians lived in Chile.

Chile has shown interest in learning from Norwegian experiences with, among other things, welfare state, business and financial policy. In recent years, economic cooperation has increased significantly. Over 50 Norwegian companies operate in Chile, many of whom are involved in the aquaculture industry in the south. Investments in general have increased significantly over the past two decades. The free trade agreement between Chile and EFTA, signed in December 2004, entails the freedom of duty for most Norwegian products for the Chilean market and vice versa.

Chile and Norway cooperate in several fields of research, and in recent years several Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) have been signed between institutions in the two countries. Most Norwegian universities have collaboration agreements with several of their Chilean sister institutions.

In recent years there have been a number of significant visits between Norway and Chile. Michelle Bachelet visited Norway as Minister of Defense in 2003 and as President in May 2007. In January 2008, HKH Crown Prince Haakon visited Chile with a large business delegation. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was a guest of honor during Chile’s National Day on 18 and 19 September 2008 and attended a summit in Chile in March 2009. In addition, several Chilean and Norwegian ministers have been visiting each other. The increased relations can be seen as a desire by both sides for stronger bilateral cooperation.

Presidents of Chile

Period President
1876-1881 Aníbal Pinto
1881-1886 Domingo Santa Maria
1886-1891 José Manuel Balmaceda
1891-1896 Jorge Montt
1896-1901 Federico Errázuriz
1901-1905 Germán Riesco
1905-1906 Rafael Rayes
1906-1910 Pedro Montt
1910 Elías Fernandez Albano
1910-1911 Emiliano Figueroa Larrain
1911-1915 Ramón Barros Luco
1915-1920 Juan Luis Sanfuentes Andonaegui
1920 Luis Barros Borgoño
1920-1924 Arturo Alessandri y Palma
1924 military junta
1925 Arturo Alessandri y Palma
1925-1927 Emiliano Figueroa Larrain
1927-1931 Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
1931 Pedro Opaza Letelier
1931 José Estéban Montero
1931 Manuel Trucco
1931-1932 José Estéban Montero
1932 Carlos Dávila
1932 Bartolomeo Blanche Espejo
1932 Abraham Oyanedel Urrutia
1932-1938 Arturo Alessandri y Palma
1938-1941 Pedro Aguirre Cerda
1941-1942 Gerónimo Méndez
1942-1946 Juan Antonio Ríos Morales
1946 Alfredo Duhalde
1946 Vicente Marino Bielech
1946-1952 Gabriel González Videla
1952-1958 Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
1958-1964 Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez
1964-1970 Eduardo Frei Montalva
1970-1973 Salvador Allende Gossens
1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet Ugarte
1990-1994 Patricio Aylwin Azócar
1994-2000 Eduardo Frei Ruíz-Tagle
2000-2006 Ricardo Lagos Escobar
2006-2010 Michelle Bachelet Jeria
2010-2014 Sebastián Piñera
2014-2018 Michelle Bachelet Jeria
2018- Sebastián Piñera

Chile Head of Government

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