Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finally A Change to the Chilean Electoral System

Chile is finally changing its electoral system (I've blogged ton on this over the years, with so many failed proposals), the infamous binomial system. They're moving to a D'Hondt method for choosing seats, a proportional representation system that allocates proportion of seats according to proportion of votes individual parties receive. The Chamber of Deputies will go from 120 to 155 seats and the Senate from 38 to 50. Further, parties cannot have more than 60% of their candidates from one gender. It will go into effect for the 2017 midterm elections.

This debate has been going on ever since the military left power in 1990. The old system tended to benefit the right because it received more seats than votes. This goes along with other electoral reforms, such as voluntary voting and automatic registration. It's a big deal and a very long time in coming.

Five years ago I published a book chapter on defining the Chilean transition (which was really fun to write, actually). These electoral changes mark a significant change--they're getting rid of the last vestiges of how the dictatorship wanted the political system to look like. The new system will shake things up because small (even radical) parties can gain seats on their own, which the Pinochet regime did not want. When I finished my dissertation in 1999, we were still talking about designated senators, so Chile has come a long way.


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