President of Chile

Last updated

President of
the Republic of Chile
Presidente de la República de Chile
Flag of the President of Chile.svg
Retrato Oficial Presidente Pinera 2018.jpg
Sebastián Piñera

since March 11, 2018
Style His Excellency
Residence No official residence
Seat La Moneda Palace
Appointer Direct popular election
Term length Four years, not eligible for re-election immediately
Inaugural holder Manuel Blanco Encalada
FormationJune 9, 1826
Succession Minister of the Interior
(as ex officio Vice-President)
Coat of arms of Chile.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Comptroller General
Constitutional Court
Flag of Chile.svg Chileportal

The President of Chile (Spanish : Presidente de Chile), officially known as the President of the Republic of Chile (Spanish : Presidente de la República de Chile) is the head of state and the head of government of Chile. The President is responsible for both the Chilean government and state administration. [1] Although its role and significance has changed over the history of Chile, as well as its position and relations with other actors in the national political organization, it is one of the most prominent political figures. It is also considered as one of the institutions that make up the "Historic Constitution of Chile", and is essential to the country's political stability. [2]

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. "Head of government" is often differentiated from "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.


Under the current Constitution (adopted in 1980), the President serves a four-year term, with immediate re-election being prohibited. The shorter period (previously the term was six years) allows for parliamentary and presidential elections to be synchronized. The official seat of the President of Chile is the La Moneda Palace in the capital Santiago.

Constitution of Chile Democratic constitution of Chile

The current Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile, approved by Chilean voters in a controversial plebiscite on September 11, 1980, under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, partially effective March 11, 1981, fully effective 11 March 1990 and amended considerably on August 17, 1989 and on September 22, 2005 (legislatively), and also in 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, replaced the earlier constitution of 1925. It is Chile's eighth constitution.

La Moneda Palace seat of the President of the Republic of Chile

Palacio de La Moneda, or simply La Moneda, is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile. It also houses the offices of three cabinet ministers: Interior, General Secretariat of the Presidency and General Secretariat of the Government. It occupies an entire block in downtown Santiago, in the area known as Civic District between Moneda, Morandé (East), Alameda del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins (South) and Teatinos street (West).

Features of the office


The Constitution of 1980 and its 2005 amendment establishes the requirements for becoming President. The President must be a natural-born citizen of the country, or else born overseas when one of his or her parents or grandparents is a Chilean national. The President must also be at least 35 years old [3] . In addition, all the requirements for becoming a Senator apply. The president must meet all the requirements to qualify as a fully Chilean citizen with the right to vote: they must have reached the age of eighteen years and have never been sentenced to severe punishment, nor lost the right to vote on grounds of insanity, been tried for a crime attracting severe punishment or for terrorist conduct, or condemned by the Constitutional Court under Article 8 of the Constitution.


Article 26 detail the electoral requirements. The President shall be elected by direct ballot, with an absolute majority of the votes validly cast. A two-round system is used. In order to win the election in the first round, the winning candidate's party must receive more than 50 percent of the valid votes leaving out of the count blank and spoiled votes.

Two-round system voting system used to elect a single winner where a second round of voting is used if no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round

The two-round system is a voting method used to elect a single winner, where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate. However, if no candidate receives the required number of votes, then those candidates having less than a certain proportion of the votes, or all but the two candidates receiving the most votes, are eliminated, and a second round of voting is held.

The election shall be held the third Sunday of November of the year immediately before the end of the administration of the President then holding office. Should there be more than two candidates in the presidential election, none of them obtaining more than half of the votes validly cast, a new election shall be held. The second election ("balloting"), in the manner determined by law, shall be held the fourth Sunday after the first election, limited to the two candidates with the highest relative majorities. Then, the candidate with the majority of valid votes in that round is elected president.

Term duration

Under the 1828 constitution, the President served for four years, without the possibility of immediate reelection for one more term. In 1833, the presidential period was changed to five years, with a possibility of immediate reelection for one more term, limited to two consecutive terms. Then by a constitutional reform in 1878, possibility for reelection became disallowed. Under the 1925 constitution, the President served for a six-year term, without the possibility of immediate reelection only.

In the original text of the 1980 constitution, the President served for an eight-year term without the possibility of immediate reelection. Some transitory disposals, fixed during the government of the general Augusto Pinochet, allowed the exceptional possibility of his reelection in the 1988 plebiscite. Then, in the transition to democracy the 1989 referendum established a first transitional four-year presidential term (1990–1994), followed by common eight-year terms, without the possibility of immediate reelection. However, in 4 March 1994 (a week before Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle took office) the presidential period was reduced to a six-year term, without an immediate reelection.

Augusto Pinochet Former dictator of the republic of Chile

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte was a Chilean general, politician and dictator of Chile between 1973 and 1990 who remained the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army until 1998 and was also President of the Government Junta of Chile between 1973 and 1981.

The Chilean transition to democracy began when a Constitution establishing a transition itinerary was approved in a plebiscite. From 11 March 1981 to March 1990, several organic constitutional laws were approved leading to the final restoration of democracy. After the 1988 plebiscite, the 1980 Constitution, still in force today, was amended to ease provisions for future amendments to the constitution, create more seats in the senate, diminish the role of the National Security Council and equalize the number of civilian and military members.

Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle Chilean politician and former President

Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle is a Chilean politician and civil engineer who was President of Chile from 1994 to 2000. He was also a Senator, fulfilling the role of President of the Senate from 2006 to 2008. He attempted a comeback as the candidate of the ruling Concertación coalition for the 2009 presidential election, but was narrowly defeated. His father was Eduardo Frei Montalva, who was President of Chile from 1964 to 1970.

Under the 2005 constitutional reform, the President serves for four years without the possibility of immediate reelection for one more term. A former president may run for office once again after serving their initial term, but only in an election following their successor, as it is not allowed to run for consecutive terms. There is no limit to how many times a person can run for candidacy if they have not previously served as President.

The incumbent president, in accordance with the constitution, completes their corresponding term on 11 March of the immediate year after the election. The President-elect takes office the same day.

Presidential symbols

Presidential sash

President Sebastian Pinera receives the presidential sash from Senate President Jorge Pizarro at the National Congress of Chile on 11 March 2010. Sebastian Pinera asume como Presidente de Chile en solemne ceremonia en el Congreso Nacional.jpg
President Sebastian Piñera receives the presidential sash from Senate President Jorge Pizarro at the National Congress of Chile on 11 March 2010.
President Michelle Bachelet with presidential sash and the O'Higgins Pioche, 11 March 2014 Michelle Bachelet asume como Presidenta, 11 de marzo de 2014.jpg
President Michelle Bachelet with presidential sash and the O'Higgins Pioche, 11 March 2014
President Sebastian Pinera receives presidential sash and the O'Higgins Pioche for the second time, 11 March 2018 Sebastian Pinera asume como Presidente de Chile y da inicio su segundo mandato 5.jpg
President Sebastian Piñera receives presidential sash and the O'Higgins Pioche for the second time, 11 March 2018

The presidential sash, used initially by Bernardo O'Higgins, became a symbol of the authority of the first president with the assumption of office by President José Joaquín Prieto in 1831. It is composed of three stripes with the colors of the Chilean flag, it is sewn by hand and measured approximately 75 cm long and 13 cm wide.

A presidential sash is a cloth sash worn by presidents of many nations in the world. Such sashes are worn by presidents in Africa, Asia, Europe and, most notably, in Latin America.

Bernardo OHiggins Chilean independence leader

Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme was a Chilean independence leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. He was a wealthy landowner of Spanish and Irish ancestry. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile (1817–1823), he is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state.

José Joaquín Prieto Militar, Chilean politician and President

José Joaquín Prieto Vial was a Chilean military and political figure. He was twice President of Chile between 1831 and 1841. José Joaquín Prieto was of Spanish and Basque descent.

From the nineteenth century a single sash was maintained that was transferred from president to president until 1915, due to the height differences between the outgoing Ramón Barros Luco and the elected Juan Luis Sanfuentes, so a new sash had to be designed. Since that date, each president has had his or her own presidential sash, which is used only in official ceremonies.

O'Higgins Pioche

The O'Higgins Pioche, which is considered the symbol of presidential power and is placed at the lower end of the presidential sash, is a star of five ends of about 7 cm in diameter, enameled in red. It dates back to the medals of the Legion of Merit and remained intact until the coup d'etat of 1973, when it disappeared during the bombing of the La Moneda palace. During the military regime of Augusto Pinochet a replica of the pioche was created, based on photographs of the original. It is only used together with the presidential sash.

Ford Galaxie presidential car Fordgalaxie.JPG
Ford Galaxie presidential car

Ford Galaxie 500

The ceremonial presidential vehicle in Chile is a 1966 black Ford Galaxie XL Convertible, given as a gift by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Chile. It is used only for official ceremonies celebrating national days on 21 May 18 and 19 September and presidential inaugurations which take place on 11 March every four years. It has a normal license plate (EL-2801). [4]


In the case when the President is unable to perform his/her duties, his/her powers are usually temporarily transferred to the Minister of the Interior under the title of "Vice President"; however this is not a true Vice Presidential position, but rather a position of a Designated Acting President. If the President and Minister of the Interior are both temporarily unavailable, the next minister of the government, in the order of succession, becomes the "Vice President".

Living former Presidents

There are four living former Chilean Presidents:

The incumbent president Sebastian Pinera with former presidents Michelle Bachelet, Patricio Aylwin, Ricardo Lagos and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle in 2010 Five Chilean presidents since 1990.jpg
The incumbent president Sebastián Piñera with former presidents Michelle Bachelet, Patricio Aylwin, Ricardo Lagos and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle in 2010
The incumbent president Michelle Bachelet with former presidents Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Ricardo Lagos and Sebastian Pinera in 2014 Lagos, Aylwin, Bachelet, Frei y Pinera (14194303705).jpg
The incumbent president Michelle Bachelet with former presidents Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Ricardo Lagos and Sebastián Piñera in 2014
The current living former presidents Michelle Bachelet, Ricardo Lagos and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle since 2018 Jefa de Estado se reune con ex Presidentes Eduardo Frei y Ricardo Lagos para abordar mejoras al sistema de pensiones (28614323900).jpg
The current living former presidents Michelle Bachelet, Ricardo Lagos and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle since 2018

See also

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  1. See Sentencia Rol 78-1989 of the Constitutional Court of Chile, relapsed on the Central Bank of Chile's Constitutional Act project (declarations Nº 7 to 13).
  2. Bravo Lira, Bernardino (1996). "Introducción. Raíz y razón del Estado de derecho en Chile". El Estado de Derecho en la Historia de Chile. Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 July 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. "::: I. Municipalidad De Talagante :::". Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.