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Chile: The 1980 Constitution
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > Military Rule, 1973-90 > The 1980 Constitution

THE 1980 CONSTITUTION


At the height of the economic boom, the regime moved to legitimize and regularize its reforms and its tenure. Its new "constitution of liberty" was approved in a controlled plebiscite in 1980, in which the government claimed to have received 67 percent of the vote. Both leftists and Christian Democrats had called for a no vote. Because there were no safeguards for the opposition or for the balloting, most analysts expressed doubts about the government's percentage and assumed that the constitution may have won by a lesser margin. According to the new constitution, Pinochet would remain president through 1989; a plebiscite in 1988 would determine if he would have an additional eight years in office. The document provided for military domination of the government both before and after the 1988 plebiscite.

The constitution's approval marked the institutionalization of Pinochet's political system. In the eyes of the military, a dictatorship had now been transformed into an authoritarian regime, rule by exception having been replaced by the rule of law. When the new charter took effect in 1981, the dictatorship was at the peak of its powers, politically untouchable and economically successful. At that moment, few would have predicted that the dispirited and fragmented opposition would take power by the end of the decade.

The imposition of the authoritarian constitution cast further gloom on the divided and dejected opposition. The PCCh now made a historic reversal, claiming that all forms of struggle, including armed insurrection, were justified against the dictatorship. Most political parties on the left or in the center, however, continued searching for a peaceful path to redemocratization.

Data as of March 1994




Last Updated: March 1994


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Chile was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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