Chilean national plebiscite, 1988
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The 1988 Chilean national plebiscite was a national referendum held on 5 October 1988 to determine whether de facto leader Augusto Pinochet should extend his rule for another eight years. The "No" side won with 55.99% of the vote, ending Pinochet's 16½ years in power.
Army General Augusto Pinochet took power on 11 September 1973, for mandate of the Christian Democrats (Chilean), in a coup d'état which deposed the democratically-elected Socialist President Salvador Allende. Allende killed himself as the presidential palace was being bombarded. A military junta — led by Pinochet, Air Force General Gustavo Leigh, Navy Admiral José Toribio Merino, and Carabinero Chief General César Mendoza — was sworn in the same evening. The following day, the four drafted an official document suspending the 1925 constitution and Congress and establishing the Junta as the country's supreme authority. Pinochet was designated as its first President, and the four verbally agreed to rotate the office. Shortly after, the Junta established an advisory committee, which Pinochet was successful in staffing with Army officers loyal to himself. One of their first recommendations was to discard the idea of a rotating Presidency, arguing it would create too many administrative problems and lead to confusion. In March 1974, six months after the Junta’s establishment, Pinochet verbally attacked the Christian Democratic Party and stated that there was no set timetable for the return to civilian rule. On 18 December 1974 Pinochet was declared Supreme Leader of the nation. After that date, the junta functioned strictly as a legislative body until the return to democracy in 1990.
On 24 September 1973, a commission was set up by the junta to draw up a blueprint for a new constitution. By 5 October 1978, the commission had finished its work. During the next two years, the proposal was studied by the Council of State presided by former president Jorge Alessandri, and in July 1980 it submitted a Constitution draft to Pinochet and the Junta. A constitutional referendum, regarded as "highly irregular" and forthrightly "fraudulent" by some observers, took place on 11 September 1980, in which the new constitution was approved by 67% of voters. The Constitution, which took effect on 11 March 1981, established a "transition period," where Pinochet would continue to exercise the executive power and the Junta the legislative power, for the next eight years. Before that period ended, a candidate for President was to be proposed by the Commanders in Chief of the Armed Forces and Carabinero Chief General for the following period of eight years. The candidate was to be ratified by voters in a national plebiscite. On 30 August 1988 Pinochet was declared to be the candidate.
The plebiscite —as detailed in the 1980 Constitution approved on 21 October 1980— consisted of two choices:
- Yes: The proposed candidate is approved. Pinochet takes office on 11 March 1989 for an eight-year mandate and parliamentary elections take place nine months after he is sworn in. The Junta continues to exercise the legislative power until the newly elected Congress takes office on 11 March 1990.
- No: The proposed candidate is rejected. Pinochet and the Junta continue in power for another year. Presidential and parliamentary elections take place three months before Pinochet's term expires. The newly elected President and Congress take office on 11 March 1990.
- Democratic Party of Chile (Partido Democrático de Chile)
- Great Front of Chile (Gran Frente de Chile)
- Independent Democratic Union (Unión Demócrata Independiente)
- Liberal Democrat Party of Chile (Partido Liberal Demócrata de Chile)
- National Advance (Avanzada Nacional)
- National Party (Partido Nacional)
- National Renewal (Renovación Nacional)
- Radical Democracy (Democracia Radical)
- Social Democrat Party (Partido Socialdemócrata)
- South Party (Partido del Sur)
- Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano)
- Christian Left (Izquierda Cristiana)
- Communist Party of Chile (Partido Comunista de Chile)
- Humanist Party (Partido Humanista)
- Liberal Party (Partido Liberal)
- MAPU Obrero Campesino
- National Democratic Party (Partido Democrático Nacional)
- National Party for the NO (Partido Nacional por el NO)
- Party for Democracy (Partido por la Democracia)
- People's Socialist Union (Unión Socialista Popular)
- Popular Unitary Action Movement (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitaria)
- Radical Party (Partido Radical)
- Revolutionary Left Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria)
- Social Democracy Party of Chile (Partido Social Democracia de Chile)
- Socialist Democratic Radical Party (Partido Radical Socialista Democrático)
- Socialist Party of Chile (Almeyda faction) (Partido Socialista-Almeyda)
- Socialist Party of Chile (Historic faction) (Partido Socialista-Histórico)
- Socialist Party of Chile (Mandujano faction) (Partido Socialista-Mandujano)
- Socialist Party of Chile (Núñez faction) (Partido Socialista-Núñez)
- The Greens (Los Verdes)
|Registered voters||7,435,913||97.52% turnout|
|Voting-age population||8,193,683||90.75% registered|
Source: Tribunal Calificador de Elecciones.
Following his defeat at the polls, Pinochet and opposition forces agreed to revise the 1980 Constitution. The 54 proposed amendments were approved by 94% of voters in a referendum on 30 July 1989. Presidential and parliamentary elections took place as scheduled on 14 December 1989. The opposition candidate—Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin—won the election with 55% of the vote and took office on 11 March 1990. The newly elected Congress was sworn in that same day.
- "BBC News - Chile court confirms Salvador Allende committed suicide". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
- "CIA Activities in Chile — Central Intelligence Agency". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
- "A Country Study: Chile". United States Library of Congress.
- Nohlen, p268
- El plebiscito presidencial de 1988 National Democratic Institute (Spanish)