Chile/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.1 Constitution

Throughout Chile’s legislative history, several attempts have been made to strengthen the country’s institutional framework by giving citizens rights and duties as a key part of building a democratic State. After a time of legal trial and error, illustrated by Chile’s political instability at the beginning of the 18th Century, the main constitutional legislation in Chilean history has been the 1833 and 1925 Constitutions. After the 1973 coup d’état, the Pinochet dictatorship suspended individual constitutional rights, dissolved the National Congress, and began to draft a new Constitution.

The Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile designed by the authoritarian government was approved by plebiscite in 1980, and came into effect in March 1981. Generally speaking, it established a presidential regime with State involvement in the economy under principles of subsidiarity and an emphasis on protecting individual economic rights, defending private property and the free market. The Constitution also made the tutelage of the Armed Forces through institutions such as the State Security Council a fundamental pillar in the regime’s stability. Finally, it should be noted that a large number of constitutionally guaranteed human rights were systematically violated by the State and Armed Forces.

The 1980 Constitution has been amended a number of times to eliminate the authoritarian enclaves it contained, by the reforms of 1989, 1991 and 2005 to name a few. These amendments democratized elections, reduced the power of the Armed Forces, increased the responsibilities of the National Congress, made changes to the Constitutional Tribunal and National Security Council, increased equality among citizens, among other advances towards the democratization of Chile.

In the cultural area, the Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile states that the State is responsible for fostering artistic creation and growing Chile’s cultural heritage (Chapter III, Article 19, number 10), and for promoting cultural development at the national, regional and district level.

The Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile is available at:

Chapter published: 28-12-2013