Chile’s political crisis and its constituent process

Chile used to be commended as a “model” case of transition to democracy, due to its stability and relative success in generating growth and reducing poverty. Yet, as Chilean democracy seemed to be dominated by institutions unable to tackle widespread forms of inequality, it faced episodic eruptions of protest movements. Despite the rhetoric of popular power, these protests were the work of a fragmented and inorganic composite of social movements, whose only power was to further deteriorate the political authority of government structures. The constituent process faces enormous challenges to reconstruct political authority. Political parties are plagued by infighting, ideological drift, and lack of credibility, and, consequently, unable lead the process of constitution-making. More importantly, given the high levels of distrust of parties and demand for direct participation, it is unlikely that the new constitution will contain provisions that look after the health of the party system.