Social Rights in Chile’s Campaigns for a New Constitution

In October of 2019, massive protests against inequality emerged in Chile. Protesters emphasized their inability to access a “dignified life” given their concerns in relation to healthcare, education, pensions, and housing. Over the next several months, more and more Chileans argued for a new social pact as a way out of this crisis. When asked in a plebiscite vote on October 25, 2020 whether or not they wanted a new constitution, 78% voted in favor. Chileans also overwhelmingly voted for a constitutional convention made up entirely of newly elected representatives, rather than including members of Congress. In this paper, I draw on the campaigns leading up to the plebiscite and the election of representatives to the constitutional convention in order to analyze the role of social rights in these campaigns. In particular, I focus on how candidates defined social rights and how central these were in the platforms of the winning candidates.

Between Financial Markets and Social Security: Chile’s Pension System after the Constituent Moment

The current Chilean pension system, created in the 1980s and based on individual capitalization accounts, is experiencing a severe legitimacy crisis. Low replacement rates and retired people living barely above the poverty line, among other factors, have been causing massive protests across the country. It is highly likely that the current constitutional process will translate the claims for change into the form of a fundamental right to social security. However, the normative and institutional dimensions of those changes beyond the constitution remain unclear. The present paper explains the main complexities of the pension system and identifies the major challenges it faces in times of reform. Using an interest-group approach, the paper examines the available options of institutional design to achieve a sustainable agreement among relevant actors, and the organizational challenges public institutions will face to properly implement those agreements.

The Constitutional Challenge for the Promotion of Egalitarian Cities in Chile

For the last four decades, Chile has implemented a market-oriented approach to urban development and the provision of affordable housing through an institutional framework that, to a significant extent, responds to the neoliberal transformation adopted by the military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The implementation of this approach has been successful in facilitating private real estate development, and in expanding access to formal housing, but has reinforced urban inequality and socioeconomic segregation within Chilean cities. This paper explains the deficiencies of the existing institutional framework with respect to the promotion of more egalitarian cities in Chile, and explores mechanisms through which the new constitution that is currently under discussion in the country may facilitate the implementation of a new policy approach with a stronger commitment towards more equal and inclusive urban areas.

Using Regulatory Reform to move from Markets to Rights in Chile’s Health and Education Sectors

Since the 1980s Chile’s regulatory framework encourages access to private healthcare and school providers, while the public sector has kept a subsidiary role. However, private providers are mainly accessible to those able to pay, while most Chileans either remain in the under-resourced public sector or incur in debt. Regulatory agencies are driven by market-based goals, largely focused on providing public information for choosing better hospitals/schools, with limited powers for promoting equal access and quality. This paper explains how these regulatory areas work and proposes that, in the aftermath of the new constitution, effectively implementing social rights such as health and education will require regulatory institutions to adopt redistributive-oriented aims. Adequate regulations in the areas of allocation and priority setting of services, affordability, and quality service delivery, are suggested as criteria for implementing a rights-based approach at the institutional level.