Senate of Chile
|This article is outdated. (November 2010)|
|Senate of Chile
Senado de la República de Chile
|President of the Senate||Guido Girardi, PPD
Since March 15, 2011
|Vice-President of the Senate||Juan Pablo Letelier, PS
Since March 15, 2011
Coalition for Change
|Last election||December 13, 2009|
National Congress of Chile
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Politics and government of
According to the present Constitution of Chile, the Senate is composed of thirty-eight directly elected senators, chosen by universal popular suffrage vote in 19 senatorial circumscriptions. These serve eight-year terms, with half of them being replaced every fourth year. They must be eligible to vote, have completed secondary school, or its equivalent, and be at least 35 years old.
Abolition of the unelected
Amendments to the Constitution, approved by a joint session of Congress on August 16, 2005, eliminated non-directly elected senators from March 11, 2006, the day 20 newly-elected senators were sworn in, leaving the total number of senators at 38, all directly elected. Previously, according to the Constitution of 1980, "designated" or "institutional" senators were appointed to the chamber. Two former heads of state, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and Augusto Pinochet, were installed as senators for life. Pinochet later resigned from this position and Frei lost his seat in the 2005 reform. However, Frei remained in the Senate by winning an elective seat.
The Senate of Chile was created in 1812 to support the formulations of policies of the Government Junta. Since then it has undergone several constitutional reorganizations that have altered the scope of its constitutional powers, its composition and the generation of its members.
Created by Article 7 of the Provisional Constitutional Manual of 1812. It was composed of seven titular members (one for each province) and three alternate members and was supposed to serve as a counterbalance to the executive power of the Government Junta. The senators were directly nominated by the provinces in agreement with the central government. It functioned from November, 1812 to January, 1814, when it was reorganized to better respond to the problems caused by the successive military defeats at the hands of the advancing Spanish Army.
Created by Article 13 of the Provisional Government Manual of 1814. As its predecessor, it was composed of seven titular members (only) nominated by the provinces in lists of three from which they were selected by the Supreme Director. It functioned from March to July, 1814, when the Spanish Army captured Santiago, putting an end to the Patria Vieja government.
First conservative senate
Created by Title III of the Constitution of 1818. It was composed of five titular members and five alternate members selected directly by the Supreme Director. It was supposed to function only when the lower house was not in function or could not meet, and had the power to enact "provisory rules" that had the same effect as laws (hence the "conservative" moniker, because it "conserved" the power.) It functioned from October, 1818 to May, 1822.
Political composition (2006-2010)
Senate composition from March 11, 2006 to March 11, 2010.
- President of the Senate of Chile
- National Congress of Chile
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- Elected as RN member, but quit the party in November 2007, after conflicts with the party leadership.
- Elected as a PS member, but quit the party in November 2008 to form his own political party, Broad Social Movement (MAS). He has pledged he will remain loyal to President Michelle Bachelet.
- Elected as a PPD member, but left the party in July 2009.
- He replaced Jorge Lavandero (PDC), who was accused of child abuse.
- Elected as a PDC member, but was expelled in December 2007, after voting against party wishes on some critical legislation and for criticizing the party leadership. He joined the PRI in July 2009.