This article needs to be updated. The reason given is: Rejection of the proposed constitution in 2022 and 2023. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (December 2023)

The Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile of 1980 (Spanish: Constitución Política de la República de Chile) is the fundamental law in force in Chile. It was approved and promulgated under the military dictatorship headed by Augusto Pinochet, being ratified by the Chilean citizenry through a referendum on September 11, 1980, although being held under restrictions and without electoral registers. While 69% of the population was reported to have voted yes, the vote was questioned by hundreds of denunciations of irregularities and fraud.[1] The constitutional text took effect, in a transitory regime, on March 11, 1981, and then entered into full force on March 11, 1990, with the return to electoral democracy. It was amended for the first time in 1989 (through a referendum), and afterward in 1991, 1994, 1997, each year from 1999 to 2001, 2003, each year from 2007 to 2015, and each year from 2017 to 2021, with the last three amendments concerning the constituent process of 2020–2022. In September 2005, under Ricardo Lagos's presidency, a large amendment of the Constitution was approved by parliamentarians, removing from the text some of the less democratic dispositions coming from Pinochet's regime, such as senators-for-life and appointed senators, as well as the armed forces' warranty of the democratic regime.[2]

On November 15, 2019, following a series of popular protests in October 2019, a political agreement between parties with parliamentary representation called for a national referendum on the proposal of writing a new Constitution and on the mechanism to draft it.[3] A plebiscite held on October 25, 2020, approved drafting a new fundamental charter, as well as choosing by popular vote delegates to a Constitutional Convention which was to fulfill this objective. The members of the convention were elected in May, 2021,[4] and first convened on July 4, 2021.[5] However, on September 4, 2022, voters rejected the new constitution in the constitutional referendum.[6]


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See also: 1980 Chilean constitutional referendum

According to the law professor Camel Cazor Aliste, the Constitution of 1980 has problems of legitimacy stemming from two facts. First, the constitutional commission was not representative of the political spectrum of Chile: its members had been handpicked by the Pinochet dictatorship, and opponents of the regime had been deliberately excluded. Secondly, the constitution's approval was achieved by the government in a controversial and tightly controlled referendum in 1980.[7] Campaigning for the referendum was irregular, with the government calling people to vote positively on the reform, and also using radio and television commercial spots, while the opposition urging people to vote negatively were only able of doing small public demonstrations, without access to television time and limited radio access. There was no electoral roll for this vote, as the register had been burned during the dictatorship. There were multiple cases of double voting, with at least 3000 CNI agents doing so.[8]

Since the return to democracy, the constitution has been amended nearly 60 times.[9]

A document from September 13, 1973, shows that Jaime Guzmán had by then already been tasked by the Junta to study the creation of a new constitution.[10]

It has been argued the 1980 Constitution was designed to favor the election of right-wing legislative majorities. Several rounds of constitutional amendments have been enacted since 1989 to address this concern.[11][12]


In July 2022, a proposed replacement constitution was submitted for national debate and general referendum, but it was rejected on September 4 despite having had the support of left-leaning President Gabriel Boric.[13] The document had faced intense criticism that it was "too long, too left-wing and too radical",[14] and was rejected by a margin of 62% to 38%.[15][16]

On March 6, 2023, a group of experts appointed by Congress began a second attempt to prepare a preliminary draft of a new constitution. The group, with lawyer Veronica Undurraga serving as its president, was scheduled to work for three months on 12 institutional bases agreed to by lawmakers, after which the draft would be given to an elected Constitutional Council, whose members would be voted upon on May 7, 2023. At the same time, a 14-member Technical Admissibility Committee began serving as arbitrator.[17]

On December 17, 2023, Chileans voted 55.8% to 44.2% against the second proposed constitution.[18] President Boric stated that he would not seek a third referendum; this outcome effectively guaranteed the 1980 charter would remain in effect.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Krause, Charles A. (September 12, 1980). "Pinochet Wins Overwhelming Vote on New Constitution". Washington Post.
  2. ^ "Constitutional history of Chile". ConstitutionNet. Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  3. ^ Cuffe, Sandra. "Chile agrees to hold referendum on constitution: 5 things to know".
  4. ^ Sherwood, Dave; Cambero, Fabian; Laing, Aislinn (May 17, 2021). "Chile's govt in shock loss as voters pick independents to draft constitution". Reuters.
  5. ^ W, Daniela Mohor (July 4, 2021). "How to write a new constitution for a divided and unequal Chile". CNN.
  6. ^ "Chile constitution: Voters overwhelmingly reject radical change". BBC News. September 5, 2022.
  7. ^ Cazor Aliste, Camel (2000). "Democracia y constitucion en Chile". Revista de Derecho. IX. Austral University of Chile: 25–34. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "Revelan fraude en plebiscito de constitución de 1980". La Nación (Chile). 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "Venice Commission :: Council of Europe". Retrieved July 5, 2023.
  10. ^ Basso Prieto, Carlos (November 5, 2013). "Los informes secretos de la CIA sobre Jaime Guzmán". El Mostrador. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  11. ^ Carey, John M. Malapportionment and ideological bias in Chilean electoral districts. Dartmouth College. May 18, 2015.
  12. ^ Carey, John. Chile’s electoral reform. Global Americans. May 27, 2015.
  13. ^ CNN: Chilean voters overwhelmingly reject proposed leftist constitution
  14. ^ Schmidt, Samantha (September 5, 2022). "Chilean voters decisively reject leftist constitution". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  15. ^ "Plebiscito: Chile rechaza propuesta de nueva Constitución con histórica participación de más de 12 millones de personas". La Tercera. September 4, 2022. Archived from the original on September 4, 2022. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Chile votes overwhelmingly to reject new, progressive constitution". The Guardian. September 5, 2022. Archived from the original on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  17. ^ Ramos, Natalia (March 6, 2023). "Chile starts second attempt to draft new constitution". Reuters. Retrieved July 26, 2023.
  18. ^ "Chilean voters reject conservative constitution, after defeating leftist charter last year". AP News. December 17, 2023. Archived from the original on December 18, 2023. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  19. ^ "Chileans reject conservative constitution to replace dictatorship-era text". Reuters. December 17, 2023. Retrieved December 18, 2023.

General references