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Long and narrow, Chile clings to the western edge of South America's South­ern Cone. Hugging - page 24 / 46





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460                           Politics of Latin America

These are selected by the National Security Council. The Supreme Court names two from the ranks of former members of the court and one who has served as comptroller general of the republic. The President of the Repub­lic designates two senators, one who has been a university president {rector) and the other, a government minister. In addition to these 47 members, for­mer presidents of the republic are automatically senators for life. The lower house of the Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, has 120 members drawn from sixty two-member electoral districts and serve four-year terms.

The judicial branch of government consists of a 21-member Supreme Court, sixteen appellate courts, major claims courts, and local courts. Su­preme Court justices are appointed by the president of the republic from a slate of five names proposed by the court itself. Each appellate court has ju­risdiction over one or more provinces, and most have three members. How­ever, the largest have thirteen members and Santiago's appellate court has twenty-five. The Supreme Court exercises its duties in separate chambers consisting of at least five judges each. These chambers are presided over by the most senior member or the president of the court. The judicial system also includes special courts, such as juvenile courts, labor courts, and mili­tary courts in time of peace.

Chile's presidential political system is based on the 1980 constitution, which kept Chile from achieving a transition to full political democracy. The constitution of 1980 established a protected democracy in which a number of antidemocratic institutions allow conservative political forces to limit the power of the presidency and congressional majorities should they fall into the hands of center-left political coalitions. Conversely, center-Right presi­dencies would enjoy assured support for most policy initiatives. The point was to protect from any meaningful reform of the socio-economic order based on private property rights and free markets established by the mili­tary government.

How is this protected democracy structured? To begin with, a number of features of the 1980 constitution grant the armed forces tutelary power over civilian political forces, especially center-left ones. The armed forces them­selves retain significant autonomy from civilian control. Their budgets can­not fall below the levels they were in 1989 (the last year of the military gov­ernment), and to avoid civilian claims of financial exigency in meeting those targets they are guaranteed ten percent of export revenues from copper. Mil­itary doctrine and promotion of general officers are free of civilian oversight. The president of the republic may nominate the commander-in-chief of the armed forces only from a list of five names submitted by the military, and can only remove him before the four year term is up under the most extra­ordinary of circumstances. Moreover, internal security laws give military courts expanded jurisdiction over judicial issues that are usually the purview of civilian courts. This has hampered the investigation of human rights abuses committed during the military government. The military's domi­nance of the National Security Council gives them a strong institutional voice in national policy-making beyond matters of national security. The National Security Council names two members to the Constitutional Tribunal, which

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