Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
President of Chile
The President of Chile is both the chief of state and the head of government. The President is elected by popular vote for a six-year term. Beginning in 2006 the President will serve for a four-year term.
From Manuel Blanco Encalada to Ricardo Lagos
When Chile consolidated its independence from Spain, the power exerted by the Governor of Chile in the name of the King of Spain was tranferred to the new President of the Republic. This led to a political system which was authoritarian and gave enormous powers to the president, who was chosen indirectly by a period of five years with reelection. This system translated into four "decennial governments": José Joaquín Prieto , Manuel Bulnes , Manuel Montt and José Joaquín Pérez . In 1871, a constitutional reform eliminated reelection and established a mandate of five years. Presidents Federico Errázuriz, Aníbal Pinto , Domingo Santa María and José Manuel Balmaceda governed during this period.
Political order was structured through a semiopen "electoral intervention" on the part of the executive, which allowed him to remain in power and annul any opposition. This situation generated increased malaise in the political sectors of the old fashioned elite, finally exploding in the Civil War of 1891. With Balmaceda defeated, a parliamentary regime arose that diminished the authority of the President, turning it into a figure without a fundamental role in the country's progress, now entrusted to two political blocks: liberals and conservatives.
Parliamentarism, which decayed in the 1920s due to a loss of prestige and to the economic recession that affected the country, derived quickly in a crisis of the political system as a whole. The exit was the promulgation of the 1925 Constitution that replaced the parliamentary regime with a presidencialist one, extending the mandate of the President of the Republic of five to six years and transforming the election into direct voting.
Its implementation was not easy: a military dictatorship headed by colonel Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and the later "Socialist Republic," constituted a period of interruption in the formation of the new political system. Nevertheless, from 1932 and during four decades, a representative democratic system of the great city masses began to take shape. Presidents Arturo Alessandri, Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Eduardo Frei Montalva and Salvador Allende are highlights of this period.
However, with the beginning of the 1960s, the national coexistence became polarized in a climate of confrontation that derived in the 1973 coup d'état. Thus a long military dictatorship prevailed, destined to refund the republic by means of the restoration of a new social order, economically liberal and politically authoritarian, as expressed in the 1980 Constitution. The defeat of Augusto Pinochet Ugarte in the 1988 plebiscite, gave way to a period of "transition to democracy" headed by a center-left coalition that in successive governments — Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and Ricardo Lagos — have tried to do away with the image of the authoritarian governor and retake the path of the representative President of all Chileans.
|Name||Took Office||Left Office||Party|
|Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme||1817||1823||Military|
|Ramón Freire Serrano||1823||1826||Lib.|
Presidents of the Republic
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