Constitution of Chile

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The current Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile, approved by Chilean voters in a tightly controlled plebiscite on September 11, 1980, under the presidency of Augusto Pinochet, effective March 11, 1981 and amended July 30, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009, replaced the earlier constitution of 1925. In its original permanent dispositions, it gave the President of the Republic a large amount of power; however, some of these dispositions, such as the power of dissolving the Lower Chamber of Congress and serving eight year terms with possibility of reelection, were modified or eliminated after 1990, when the country regained its democracy and the Congress was reestablished. It created some new institutions, such as the Constitutional Tribunal and the controversial National Security Council (COSENA).

In its temporary dispositions, the document ordered the transition from the former military government, with Augusto Pinochet as President of the Republic, and the Legislative Power of the Military Junta (formed by the heads of the navy, air force, National Police, and a representative of the army, the head of the Army being president of the republic), to a civil one, with a time frame of eight years, during which the Legislative Power would still be the Military Junta. It set the first eight year presidential term for Pinochet, with a plebiscite in the eighth year, in which only one candidate, nominated by the Junta, would be accepted or not. The candidate, as expected, was Pinochet himself. While the steps to follow in the case of a triumph of the "yes" option, which the document obviously anticipated, were clearly delineated, the steps for the "no" triumph were less so, but still clear enough that no serious doubt emerged when the "no" option actually was victorious in the 1988 plebiscite.

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