Political and Legal Aspects of Chile

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Political and Legal Aspects of Chile
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The Chilean Government
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Chile’s official name is The Republic of Chile. Chile returned to a democracy in 1990 after a seventeen year military rule by Augusto Pinochet, who came into power after a military coup which overthrew leftist president Salvador Allende, who was in power from 1970-1973 (U.S. Department of State, 2012). Chile is now considered an electoral democracy, with the president serving one four year term (Freedom, 2012). The current president is Sebastián Piñera (CIA, 2012). In 2005, the senate removed any remaining military controls by getting rid of authoritarian curbs on the legislative branch and allowing the president to remove top military commanders (Freedom, 2012). -------------------------------------------------

The Chilean Government is divided into the following three political branches: executive, legislative, and judicial (CIA, 2012). The executive branch is headed by the president, who serves as chief of state and as head of government (CIA, 2012). The president is elected by popular vote and serves a single four year term (CIA, 2012). The legislative branch is composed of a bicameral national congress which consists of a senate and a chamber (CIA, 2012). The senate has 38 seats, and its members are elected by popular vote for a term of eight years (CIA, 2012). The judicial branch consists of both a Supreme Court and a constitutional tribunal (CIA, 2012). In the Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president and are ratified by the Senate (CIA, 2012). There are twenty members on the Supreme Court, and the members elect a president of the Supreme Court every three years (CIA, 2012). The constitutional tribunal, which reviews the constitutionality of laws approved by Congress, consists of eight members, which includes the following: two members from the Senate, two members from the Chamber of Deputies, two members from the Supreme Court, and two members from the national Security Council (CIA, 2012). -------------------------------------------------

Chile is divided into thirteen administrative regions, each of which is divided into forty provinces, and each province is divided into municipalities (Bonnal). Each region has a governor and each province has a provincial administrator, each of whom is elected by the president (Bonnal). Each municipality is headed by a mayor, who is elected by the people (Bonnal). -------------------------------------------------

Chile’s Legal System
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Chile operates under a Civil Law System influenced by The Common Law, which is observed through the use of judicial review of legislative acts in the Chilean Supreme Court (CIA, 2012). The Chilean courts are mostly free from political interference as the constitution guarantees an independent judicial branch (Freedom, 2012). The constitution declares the right to legal counsel, but some reports indicate that there are instances where indigent defendants do not receive counsel (Freedom, 2012). Other constitutional guarantees include the freedom of speech, which is well respected in Chile (Freedom, 2012). The Chilean media operates freely, although the print media is dominated by two right-leaning companies, the television market is not dominated by any political faction (Freedom, 2012). However, there are still some laws still in existence which bar the defamation of state institutions (Freedom, 2012). In 2008, a law was enacted which guaranteed freedom of information; however, beginning in 2011, with the student protests, many members of the press were harassed and detained by the police force (Freedom, 2012). In addition, there are no governmental restrictions on the internet (Freedom,...
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