Browse the listing below to find government information for Chile, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Chile at its
Chile Country Page.
Independence: September 18, 1810.
Constitution: Promulgated September 11, 1980; effective March 11, 1981; amended in 1989, 1993, and 1997.
Branches: Executive--president. Legislative--bicameral legislature. Judicial--Constitutional Tribunal, Supreme Court, court of appeals, military courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 12 numbered regions, plus Santiago metropolitan region, administered by appointed "intendentes," regions are divided into provinces, administered by appointed governors; provinces are divided into municipalities administered by elected mayors.
Political parties: Major parties are the Christian Democrat Party, the National Renewal Party, the Party for Democracy, the Socialist Party, the Independent Democratic Union, and the Radical Social Democratic Party. The Communist Party has not won a congressional seat in the last four elections.
Suffrage: Universal at 18, including foreigners legally resident for more than 5 years.
Chile's constitution was approved in a September 1980 national plebiscite. It entered into force in March 1981. After Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the constitution was amended to ease provisions for future amendments to the constitution, create nine appointed or "institutional" senators, and diminish the role of the National Security Council by equalizing the number of civilian and military members--four members each. Many among Chile's political class see further constitutional reform as necessary to complete the transition to democracy.
Chile's bicameral Congress has a 48-seat Senate--38 elected, 9 appointed, 1 for life--and a 120-member Chamber of Deputies. Deputies are elected every 4 years. Senators serve for 8 years with staggered terms. The current Senate is evenly split 24-24 between pro-government and opposition Senators. Nine institutional senators were appointed in 1999, and two "senators for life," former Presidents Pinochet (who resigned in 2002) and Frei. (Chile's constitution provides that former presidents who have served at least six years shall be entitled to a lifetime senate seat.) The last congressional elections were held in December 2001. The current lower house--the Chamber of Deputies--contains 58 members of the governing center-left coalition and 56 from the center-right opposition. Currently 6 Deputies have their voting rights suspended. The Congress is located in the port city of Valparaiso, about 140 kilometers (84 mi.) west of the capital, Santiago.
Chile's congressional elections are governed by a unique binomial system that rewards coalition slates. Each coalition can run two candidates for the two Senate and two lower chamber seats apportioned to each chamber's electoral districts. Typically, the two largest coalitions split the seats in a district. Only if the leading coalition ticket out-polls the second-place coalition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 does the winning coalition gain both seats. In the 2001 congressional elections, the conservative Independent Democratic Union surpassed the Christian Democrats for the first time to become the largest party in the lower house. It is followed by the Christian Democrats and the center-right National Renewal Party. The Communist Party again failed to gain any seats in the 2001 elections.
Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme Court.