Chilean electoral reform

The electoral reform in Chile has been approved. As is to be expected in such processes, the final version is a bit different than what had been proposed back in 2013 when we first discussed the Chilean electoral reform.

The size of the Chamber of Deputies will be increased from 120 to 155, and the chamber will be redistricted to have 28 districts (currently there are 60). This means a mean magnitude of 5.5; the range will be 3-8. This is a very substantial change from the current system, in which all districts elect just two.

The Senate is also being increased in size from 38 elected members to 50. The fifteen regions will constitute electoral districts, leading to an average district magnitude of 3.3 (range of 2-5).

The D’Hondt method is retained, as are the open lists.

There will be a gender quota concerning nominations: neither men nor women can constitute more than 60% of the candidates on a list.

The first link above offers detail (in Spanish) about the debates and votes on specific provision, as well as which communes will be in which chamber district, and the district magnitudes for both chambers.

9 thoughts on “Chilean electoral reform

  1. Chile is going to have a moderate district magnitude for it’s lower house. How will the parties operate for the next election? Does the size increase go far enough? 155 members is a good size. Will the districts be continually redrawn or will the district magnitude be adjusted?

    • Regarding the staggered terms, the review of the bill’s provisions indicates that Senates from even-numbered regions and the Santiago Metro area who were elected in 2013 will serve their eight-year terms. The new district magnitudes for the Senate come in to effect in 2017 only for the odd-numbered regions. So for the 2013-17 2017-21 period, this implies some very odd representation by which some regions continue to have only two senators while some others will have more than two. (I should note that five of the fifteen regions will continue to have just two, even after 2017.)

      Under the current electoral system for the Senate, most regions are their own (two-seat) senate district, but some are divided: for example, Santiago and Valparaiso have two districts each. Under the new plan, Santiago gets M=5 in one district and Valparaiso also becomes a single 5-seat district. Santiago gets its representation renewed only 2021, but Valparaiso will get its fifth senator in 2017.

      (I hope I got that right; it is a little confusing!)

      • For a non-federal country, the Senate remains very malapportioned (Regarding the Chamber, I have not dug into its districting and apportionment yet).

        I’m surprised the Metropolitan Region of Santiago, as the biggest region (40% of population), ends up even more underrepresented (from 4/38 to 5/50). In the Chamber version of the bill Santiago got 7 seats (while Antofagasta and Los Ríos ony got 2 seats). There seems to be no rule behind both apportionment schemes.

        (Two corrections: Maule, Biobío and Araucanía also have two two-seat districts each; they also become a single 5-seat district each. – The 2017-2021 Senate will be the mix of old and new delegations, not 2013-2017)

  2. And at long last, Chile’s electoral reform is a reality: President Michelle Bachelet signed yesterday into law the reform bill reinstating PR for Chilean congressional elections, just days after the the South American country’s Constitutional Court rejected an eleventh-hour challenge from the right-wing opposition parties (which seemingly stand the most to lose from the reform in the first place); La Tercera has more information in Spanish here.

    • Thank you Manuel. I guess it was a closer call than I realized. Just this week I told my undergrad students that the reform had been enacted. I may have been a little ahead of the story, but it is a relief to know it has gone ahead!

      • It is great for us political scientists that some seats remain 2-seaters. Very much looking forward to seeing future research on this topic…

  3. How powerful is Chile’s Senate? Does it have equal power with the lower house? Isn’t its functions redundant compared to the lower house?

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