7 May 2016

Government and administration

The Republic of Chile is a unified democratic and presidential state composed of several autonomous institutions embedded within a constitutional framework which determines certain functions and distributes powers among the organs of the State, different from the traditional doctrine of separation of powers.

Approved in the plebiscite of 11 September 1980, the Constitution of the Republic of Chile — the tenth constitutional text in Chilean history — has ruled the country since the March 11,1981. Since1989 it has been reformed in fifteen different instances.

The executive power or, more properly, the government and the public administration, is headed by the President of the Republic, who is the head of state and government. Since March 2014, this position has been held by Michelle Bachelet. According to the Constitution, the President will remaining in power for a term of 4 years and may not be re-elected for the following period.

The president appoints the ministers of state, who are direct and immediate collaborators in the government and the administration of the state and officials who report to the president.

The internal government of each region has an intendant, appointed by the president and wo is the natural and immediate representative in that territory. The regional administration is run by regional governments, made up of the respective governor and a regional council indirectly elected. In turn, the governor — also appointed by the president — is in charge of the provincial government of the provinces. For its part, the local administration of the municipalities, consisting of a mayor and a communal council, is elected by popular vote.

Legislative power resides in the President and the National Congress, which is bicameral and located in Valparaiso, consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The Senate consists of 38 senators elected by popular vote, who remain in office for 8 years, with the possibility of reelection in their respective constituencies which elect two senators in each election; every 4 years half of the senate seats are open in the regular parliamentary elections. The Chamber of Deputies consists of 120 members elected by popular vote, who hold their positions for 4 years and can also be re-elected in their respective districts, which elect two members of Parliament in every election, in which all of the entire Chamber is renewed.

For the parliamentary elections, the binomial system has been used since 1989, which has allowed the establishment of two majority political blocs — the current Nueva Mayoria or New Majority and the Alianza or Alliance — at the expense of the exclusion of non-mainstream political groups. Opponents of this system, established by the 1980 Constitution, are seeking to change this.

The judiciary is made up of independent and autonomous courts which exercise judicial power. The Supreme Court is its highest institution. There is also an autonomous and hierarchical public prosecutor’s office, which exclusively directs criminal investigations and, also, exercises public criminal action.

An autonomous and independent Constitutional Court rules on the constitutionality of the law and agreements, the decrees and proposed bills. Also, an autonomous General Comptroller of the Republic determines the legality of acts of the public administration and monitors income and the investment of public funds.
A Qualified Court of Elections and thirteen regional electoral tribunals monitor the regularity of the electoral processes that happen in the country and the fulfillment of its results.

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