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Long and narrow, Chile clings to the western edge of South America's South­ern Cone. Hugging - page 26 / 46





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462                           Politics of Latin America

largest bloc can win one out of every two contested seats with only one third of the vote, which is the historic percentage of the vote for the Right.

Completing Chile's transition to full political democracy—deepening democracy—has proven difficult. Constitutional amendments require two-thirds support of all deputies and senators. This means that constitutional amendments require support from Conservatives in the legislature who, to date, only have approved relatively minor changes. The first set of reforms were negotiated in 1989 after Pinochet's defeat in the October 1988 plebiscite and before the first general election in December 1989. Fifty-four mostly mi­nor reforms were approved in a plebiscite on July 30, 1989, largely with the help of the center-Right Renovacion Nacional party. Among the more sig­nificant ones was the restoration of full electoral competition by lifting the ban on the Communist party and other erstwhile left-wing revolutionary parties. Furthermore, the leadership of labor unions and interest group as­sociations were once again permitted to be militants of political parties. The number of elected senators was increased from 26 to 38, which reduced the proportion of designated senators in that chamber. The president would no longer have the power to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, and civilian representation was increased on the National Security Council to reach par­ity with military members. During Patricio Alywin's administration, in No­vember of 1991, the Congress approved amendments to local government. They provided for the replacement of presidentially appointed local officials with directly elected mayors. In February of 1994, the length of the presi­dential term was reduced from eight to six years. All other attempts at mod­ifications, especially with respect to clauses affecting human rights issues, have not prospered. The government of President Ricardo Lagos, which took office in March 2000, pledged to continue efforts to reform the constitution.

Chile has a strong, well institutionalized political party system. It remains a tripolar multiparty system with many of the traditional parties still active, although, of course, there are new parties as well, several of which are prin­cipal. The core of the old National Party formed Renovacion Nacional (RN), a center-Right party based on traditional Conservative values that includes some moderates and occasionally is willing to negotiate key policy issues with center-Left administrations that have dominated Chilean politics since the transition. A "new Right" also developed. Close collaborators of the mil­itary government, especially among the economic technocrats, formed the Union Democratica Independiente (UDI). The UDI, a libertarian party, is less inclined to compromise with centrist or center-Left political parties. The RN and UDI have managed to form electoral coalitions for presidential races, but relations between the two parties are usually strained. However, they formed a more lasting coalition for the 1999 elections. The Alianza por Chile survived as a legislative bloc after the 2000 run-off election won by Ricardo Lagos of the Concertacion. The Union de Centre Centre emerged as a third right-wing party that is somewhat more populist and nationalistic than the other two. It frequently runs its own presidential candidate.

The Center is dominated by the Christian Democratic party (PDC). The PDC retains its traditional factions: conservatives (guatones), leftists (chas-

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