Elections in Chile
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Politics and government of
Chile holds nationwide presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections.
The electoral process is supervised by the Electoral Service (Servicio Electoral), which is independent from the government. Winners are officially proclaimed by the Election Qualifying Court (Tribunal Calificador de Elecciones).
|Type||Municipal (October)||Presidential (November)
National Congress (November)
Regional Boards (November)
|None||Municipal (October)||Presidential (November)
National Congress (November)
Regional Boards (November)
|National Congress||None||Full Chamber and half of Senate||None||Full Chamber and half of Senate|
|Regions, provinces and municipalities||Mayors and Councilors||Regional Board||None||Mayors and Councilors||Regional Board|
|President||None||None||11 March||None||11 March|
|National Congress||None||None||11 March||None||11 March|
|Regions, provinces and municipalities||6 December||None||11 March||None||6 December||11 March|
All citizens of Chile as well as foreigners residing legally in Chile for at least five years, who are 18 years of age or older on the day of the election, are eligible to vote. Enrollment in Chile is automatic for those aged 17 and older and voting is voluntary. Chileans are not allowed to vote overseas. Before 2012 voting was compulsory for life for Chilean citizens who wished to enroll.
Women's suffrage was achieved in 1934 for local elections. In 1949 voting was extended to literate women over 21. Full universal suffrage was achieved in 1970, with men and women over 18 eligible to vote, regardless of their ability to read and write.
Presidential elections 
The President is directly-elected nationwide by the absolute majority of the valid votes (excludes null votes and blank votes). If no candidate obtains such majority, a runoff election is held between the top two vote getters. Before 1989, the president was confirmed by Congress if elected by a simple majority.
Each legally operating political party may present one of its members as candidate. Independent candidates are required to gain the support of a number of independent electors prior to registering their candidacy. The number of signatures needed is equal to at least 0.5% of the number of people who last voted in the Chamber of Deputies election, nation-wide. For the 2009 election, the number was 36,037 signatures.
According to the Constitution, presidential elections take place on the third Sunday of November of the year before the incumbent president's term expires. A runoff election —if necessary— takes place on the fourth Sunday following the election. The president is sworn in on the day the incumbent president's term expires. Since 1990 that day has been March 11.
Before 2011 presidential elections took place 90 days before the incumbent president's term expired. If that day was not a Sunday, the election was moved to the next Sunday. A runoff election —if necessary— took place 30 days after the first election. The Sunday rule was also observed. Since 1990 the president has taken office on March 11; thus, elections took place on or after December 11 of the previous year.
Elections were last held on 13 December 2009, and are next scheduled to take place on 17 November 2013.
Parliamentary elections 
Chile's bicameral Congress consists of a Chamber of Deputies (lower house) and a Senate (upper house). The country is divided into 60 electoral districts for the lower house and 19 senatorial constituencies for the Senate. (See Electoral divisions of Chile for details.) Each electoral district and senatorial constituency directly elects two representatives. That is, 120 deputies and 38 senators, in total. Chile is the only country in the world with two-seat electoral districts.
Deputies serve for four years and senators for eight years. Both deputies and senators may seek reelection indefinitely. Half the Senate is renewed every four years. In the first Senate after the restoration of democracy in 1990, senators from odd-numbered regions served for four years (1990-1994), while senators from even-numbered regions plus the Santiago Metropolitan Region served for eight years (1990-1998). The senators from odd-numbered regions elected in 1993 served the usual eight years (1994-2002).
The Constitution establishes that parliamentary elections will be held in conjunction with presidential elections.
Candidates may register their candidacy with the backing of either a political party or of a group of citizens. In the former case, party affiliation is not mandatory for the candidates. In the latter case, candidates must not be affiliated with any political party and are required to collect a number of signatures. The signatures needed are at least 0.5% of the turnout of the last Chamber of Deputies election in that electoral district (if running for a lower-chamber seat) or last Senate election in that senatorial constituency (if running for a Senate seat), and they must come from independent electors.
The law allows two or more political parties to ally one another to create "pacts". Pacts may present up to two candidates per electoral district or senatorial constituency. It is not mandatory for the candidates to be affiliated with any of the political parties forming the pact, but they cannot be affiliated with a political party outside the pact.
Political parties not integrating a pact may present up to two candidates per electoral district or senatorial constituency. In this case, the candidates must be affiliated with that party.
For every electoral district and senatorial constituency election the two political entities [either a) a pact, b) a political party not integrating a pact, or c) an independent candidate not integrating a pact] receiving the most votes are awarded one seat each, with the leading candidate within each entity taking the seat. To win both seats, the leading entity must out poll the second leading entity by a margin exceeding 2-to-1. This is a rare use of the d'Hondt method, with only two seats allocated per electoral division.
Elections were last held on 13 December 2009, and are next scheduled to take place on 17 November 2013.
This system was established by the military dictatorship that ruled the country until 1990, limiting the proportional system in place until 1973 to two seats per district/constituency. Gerrymandering was employed in the drawing of electoral districts to favor the rightist parties, with a positive bias towards the traditionally more conservative rural areas of the country. The vote/seat ratio was lower in districts who supported Pinochet in the 1988 plebiscite and higher in those where the opposition was strongest. The authoritarian regime also made it very difficult to change the system, as a three-fifths majority of both chambers is needed to modify it.
Members of the Concert of Parties for Democracy believe the system undermine their majority in Congress, while overestimating the representation of the right. The right views the system as necessary for the country's stability, and to encourage the creation of large coalitions. The left sees the system as undemocratic, denying representation to candidates outside the two main coalitions.
Municipal elections 
Municipal elections elect one mayor and a number of councilmen per municipality. Mayors are elected by a simple majority, while councilmen seats (ranging from 6 to 10, depending on the number of registered voters in each municipality) are decided using a system of proportional representation, similar to the d'Hondt method. Mayors and councilmen are elected in separate ballots since 2004. Indefinite reelection is allowed.
The law establishes that municipal elections will take place every four years on the last Sunday of October. The newly elected authorities take office on December 6 of that same year.
Elections were last held on 28 October 2012, and are next scheduled to take place on 30 October 2016.
The Constitution provides for binding referendums (plebiscito) only in the case a constitutional reform passed by Congress is completely vetoed by the President and then re-approved by Congress by a two-thirds majority of each chamber. In such occurrence the President has the authority to either sign the reform into law or call for a referendum. To date, the President has not exercised such power.
The Constitution permits municipalities to organize binding referendums to resolve a number of local issues. They can be called by the mayor with the approval of the council, by two-thirds of councilmen or by 10% of residents who voted in the last municipal election.
Regional elections 
Regions in Chile are governed by an Intendant (Intendente), which is appointed by the President of the Republic, and a regional board, made up of a number of advisers (consejeros).
Advisers are elected by each region's municipal councilmen, who form electoral colleges per regional province. Each region is allotted two advisers per province plus 10 more in regions with up to 1 million inhabitants or 14 more in regions with over 1 million people. These additional advisers are apportioned to provinces in relation to their share of the regional population in the latest census using the d'Hondt method. The winners within each province are those who obtain the most votes. However, if within a province, two or more candidates decide to run together as a list, then the winners are decided using the d'Hondt method.
Advisers serve four-year terms and can be reelected indefinitely. Elections take place 15 days after the councilmen take office. The newly elected advisers are sworn in 60 days after their election. The last election took place on December 21, 2008 and the elected advisers took office on 19 February 2009.
In October 2009 the Constitution was modified to allow advisers to be directly elected by universal suffrage. Advisers will serve for four years with the possibility of reelection. The number of advisers will be proportional to the region's population and area in relation to the country. The law regulating regional administrations has not been modified to reflect this change, thus it is not known when the first such election will take place.
In December 2012 a temporary article was added to the Constitution suspending the election that was to take place on 21 December 2012 and extending the mandate of the incumbent advisers to 11 March 2014. The same article states that the advisers's first direct election will take place on 17 November 2013 (to coincide with the presidential and parliamentary election), as long as the necessary changes to the law are published before 20 July 2013.
Primaries were not established in law until January 2010, when they were added to the Constitution as an option for political parties to choose candidates to any directly elected post. The Constitution states that the primary results are legally binding for political parties that submit to them and that the losing candidates are ineligible for the same election in the respective office.
Primaries will be an option once the specific law regulating them is approved.
The Concertación coalition selected its candidate for President of the Republic via primaries in 1993, 1999 and 2009 (in 2005 they were canceled, after one of two contenders quit the race). The Juntos Podemos pact selected its presidential candidate in a primary in 2009.
Polling stations (which, since 2012, are mixed-sex) are, in most cases, schools and sporting centers. The armed forces and uniformed police (Carabineros) are in charge of providing security to these places before, during, and after the elections.
For Chileans, a non-expired national identity card or passport is the only document required to vote. Foreigners need to carry their identity card for foreigners in order to vote. The vote is secret and in person. Before voting, the voter must give out their identity card or passport (which is retained during the process) to verify they are registered at that particular polling place and then sign a registration book. The voter is then given the ballot(s) and enters a voting booth where they must mark their choice by drawing a vertical line over a printed horizontal line next to their candidate of choice by using a previously provided graphite pencil. Ballots are pre-printed with all the candidate names, their ballot number and their party affiliation. The marking of two or more choices nullifies the vote. A vote is considered "blank" when no candidate was correctly marked. The voter then places the ballot(s) inside the appropriate ballot box(es).
The state of suffrage in Chile since 1925:
- From 1925: Men over 21 able to read and write. (Art. 7 of the 1925 Constitution) [Note: The Constitution used the gender-ambiguous word chilenos which strictly means "Chilean men" but may also mean "Chilean people".]
- From 1934: Men over 21 able to read and write (general registry); women over 25 able to read and write (municipal registry, i.e. limited to local elections). (Law No. 5,357)
- From 1949: Men and women over 21 able to read and write. (Law No. 9,292)
- From 1970 until today: Men and women over 18. (Law No. 17,284 modifying Art. 7 of the 1925 Constitution; Art. 13 of the 1980 Constitution)
Election turnout since 1925.
|Date||Election||VAP1||Registered2||%||Turnout3||%||T / VAP %4|
|1989-12-14||Chamber of Deputies||8,365,485||7,557,537||90.34||7,158,646||94.72||85.57|
|1993-12-11||Chamber of Deputies||9,135,407||8,085,439||88.51||7,385,016||91.34||80.84|
|1997-12-14||Chamber of Deputies||9,854,233||8,069,624||81.89||7,046,351||87.32||71.51|
|2001-12-16||Chamber of Deputies||10,600,931||8,075,446||76.18||7,034,292||87.11||66.36|
|2005-12-11||Chamber of Deputies||11,419,104||8,220,897||71.99||7,207,351||87.67||63.12|
|2009-12-13||Chamber of Deputies||12,277,915||8,285,186||67.48||7,263,537||87.67||59.16|
- e Based on preliminary results.
- ^ Voting Age Population: An estimation of the country's population over the age of 18 on the day of the election. Sources: National Statistics Office (INE) [1992-2012]; International Data Base, U.S. Census Bureau [1988-1989]. Note: The INE and the U.S. Census Bureau provide data estimated for June 30 and July 1, respectively, of each year disaggregated by age. Linear interpolation was applied to obtain the population for election day.
- ^ Source: Electoral Service (Servel) (1925-1973; 1988-2009; 2012).
- ^ Source: Interior Ministry.
- ^ Turnout as a percentage of the voting age population.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Elections in Chile|
- Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile. Chile Library of National Congress.
- Organic Constitutional Law on Popular Elections and Vote Counting. Chile Library of National Congress.
- Carey, John M (2009). "Ingeniería electoral: ¿qué nos muestran las investigaciones académicas sobre los efectos anticipados de las reformas electorales?" [Electoral engineering: What do academic research tell us about the anticipated effects of the electoral reforms?]. Fortalecimiento de la Democracia: Reforma del Sistema Electoral Chileno / Chapter 8 (in Spanish). p. 234. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- Altman, David (2004). "Redibujando el Mapa Electoral Chileno: Incidencia de Factores Socioeconómicos y Género en las Urnas". Revista de Ciencia Política / Vol. XXIV / Nº 2. Instituto de Ciencia Política, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
- Fuentes S., Claudio and Marcela Ríos T. (January 2007). "Una reforma necesaria: Efectos del sistema binominal" [A necessary reform: Effects of the binomial system]. FLACSO Chile (in Spanish) (2nd ed.). Santiago. p. 32. ISBN 978-956-205-215-3. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
- Valenzuela, Arturo and Peter Siavelis (1991). "Ley electoral y estabilidad democrática: Un ejercicio de simulación para el caso de Chile". Estudios Públicos Nº 43 (in Spanish). Santiago: Centro de Estudios Públicos. p. 39. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- Carey, John M. (2006). "Las virtudes del sistema binominal" [The Virtues of the Binomial System]. Revista de Ciencia Política / Vol. 26 / Nº 1 (in Spanish). Santiago. pp. 226–235. ISSN 0718-090X. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
- "Coloma defiende el sistema binominal: "Ha dado estabilidad a Chile"". Emol.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- "Chili : Système électoral". Observatoire Politique de l'Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po - Opalc. 2009. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
- Siavelis, Peter (2004). "Sistema electoral, desintegración de coaliciones y democracia en Chile: ¿El fin de la Concertación?". Revista de Ciencia Política / Vol. XXIV / N° 1 (in Spanish). Santiago. pp. 58–80. ISSN 0718-090X. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
- Organic Constitutional Law on Municipalities. Chile Library of National Congress.
- post. "Hoy se realiza primer plebiscito comunal vinculante del país en Peñalolén | Nacional". La Tercera. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
- Organic Constitutional Law on Regional Administration and Governance. Chile Library of National Congress.
- Ley Nº 20.644
- post (2012-02-20). "Primarias de la Concertación: Tohá y Pinto se convierten en las cartas municipales | Política". La Tercera. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
- "Primarias municipales de la Concertación se inician en 145 comunas del país". Emol.com. Retrieved 2012-06-21.
- Organic Constitutional Law on Election Enrollment System and Electoral Service. Chile Library of National Congress.
- Archive of recent election results (Chilean Ministry of Interior)
- Archive of past elections
- Chile's Electoral Service (Servel)
- Adam Carr's Election Archive