Chile/Government

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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Chile
conventional short form: Chile
local long form: Republica de Chile
local short form: Chile

Data code: CI

Government type: republic

Capital: Santiago

Administrative divisions: 13 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Atacama, Bio-Bio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule, Region Metropolitana (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica

Independence: 18 September 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 18 September (1810)

Constitution: 11 September 1980, effective 11 March 1981; amended 30 July 1989 in 1993 and 2001

Legislative branch: Bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado

  • 38 elected members, two for each circumsciption. Of the 13 regions,6 are divided in two circumsciptions, seven correspond to one. They have 8 year staggered terms.
  • nine appointed members:
    • two former members of the Supreme Court, elected by this.
    • one ex Contralor (head of la Contraloria General de la Republica, institution that examines the legality of all the actions of the administration), also elected by the Supreme Court.
    • one ex Comander in Chief of the Army, one of the Navy, one of the Air Force and one ex Director General of Carabineros, all of them elected by the National Security Council.
    • one ex president of an accredited University, designated by the President of the Republic.
    • one ex Ministro de Estado (head of a Ministerio, Secretary), also designated by the President of the Republic.
Appointed Senators also have 8 year terms.

Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (120 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) Chile's bicameral Congress has a 49-seat Senate--38 elected, 9 appointed, 2 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 contains 20 members from the center-left governing coalition, 18 from the rightist opposition. In March 1998, nine newly appointed institutional senators appointed in 1999, and two "senators for life," former Presidents Pinochet and Frei. (Chile's constitution provides that former presidents who have served at least 6 years shall be entitled to a lifetime senate seat.) The last congressional elections were held in December 1997. The next congressional elections are scheduled for October 2001. The current lower house--the Chamber of Deputies-- contains 70 members of the governing coalition and 50 from the rightist opposition. 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. The political parties with the largest representation in the current Chilean Congress are the centrist Christian Democrat Party and the center-right National Renewal Party. The Communist Party and the small Humanist Party failed to gain any seats in the 1997 elections. Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme Court.

Legal system: based on Code of 1857 derived from Spanish law and subsequent codes influenced by French and Austrian law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ricardo LAGOS Escobar (since 11 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ricardo LAGOS Escobar (since 11 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 12 December 1999, with runoff election held 16 January 2000 (next to be held NA December 2005)
election results: Ricardo LAGOS Escobar elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo LAGOS Escobar 51.32%, Joaquin LAVIN 48.68%

Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (48 seats, 38 elected by popular vote and 10 appointed (all former presidents are senators for life); members serve eight-year terms - one-half elected every four years) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (120 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 11 December 1997 (next to be held NA December 2001); Chamber of Deputies - last held 11 December 1997 (next to be held NA December 2001)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CPD (PDC 14, PS 4, PPD 2), UPP 17 (RN 7, UDI 10), Chile 2000 (UCCP) 1, independents 10; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - CPD 50.55% (PDC 22.98%, PS 11.10%, PPD 12.55%, PRSD 3.13%), UPP 36.23% (RN 16.78%, UDI 14.43%); seats by party - CPD 70 (PDC 39, PPD 16, PRSD 4, PS 11), UPP 46 (RN 24, UDI 21, Party of the South 1), right-wing independents 4

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema, judges are appointed by the president and ratified by the Senate from lists of candidates provided by the court itself, the president of the Supreme Court is elected by the 21-member court; Constitutional Tribunal

Political parties and leaders: Chile 2000 - main party is UCCP [Alejandro GARCIA-HUIDBORO]; Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Gutenberg MARTINEZ]; Coalition of Parties for Democracy ("Concertacion") or CPD [Eduardo FREI Ruiz-Tagle] - including PDC, PS, PPD, PRSD; Independent Democratic Union or UDI [Pablo LONGUEIRA]; National Renewal or RN [Alberto CARDEMIL]; Party for Democracy or PPD [Sergio BITAR]; Party of the South or PS [leader NA]; Progressive Center-Center Union or UCCP [Francisco Javier ERRAZURIZ]; Radical Social Democratic Party or PRSD [Anselmo SULE]; Socialist Party or PS [Ricardo NUNEZ]; Union for the Progress of Chile ("Alliance for Chile") or UPP [Arturo ALESSANDRI Besa] - including RN and UDI

Political pressure groups and leaders: revitalized university student federations at all major universities; Roman Catholic Church; United Labor Central or CUT includes trade unionists from the country's five largest labor confederations

International organization participation: APEC, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-11, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNMOGIP, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mario ARTAZA
chancery: 1732 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 785-1746
FAX: [1] (202) 887-5579
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John O'LEARY
embassy: Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Santiago
mailing address: APO AA 34033
telephone: [56] (2) 232-2600
FAX: [56] (2) 330-3710

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; there is a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center; design was based on the US flag