Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Chile: New Constitutional Amendment Imposes Term Limits for Certain Public Officials

(July 29, 2020) On July 8, 2020, Law No. 21238, which amends the Chilean Political Constitution to establish limitations on the reelection of certain public officials, entered into force in Chile. The new law also provides that elections for deputies (members of the lower house of the national legislature) and senators are to be held jointly. The law had been promulgated by the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, five days earlier.

Under Law No. 21238, deputies, whose terms are four years, may be reelected for up to two terms successively, while senators, whose terms are eight years, may be successively reelected for up to one term. The new law also provides that mayors are to serve for four years, and may be successively reelected for up to two terms. For purposes of this computation, elected officials are considered to have held office for a term when they have fulfilled more than half of their mandate.

When promulgating the constitutional amendment, the president stated that setting limits on the reelection of lawmakers and other elected officials had been one of his campaign proposals and would contribute to the strengthening of democracy, with greater participation and transparency in the political process.

The president noted that, in his view, Chile had recently gone through a period of deterioration in the political environment, where some of the country’s institutions had been weakened, with an alarming distancing between citizens and politicians. He argued that a more frequent renewal of lawmakers and elected officials would pave the way for more citizens to run for positions in popular elections. The president said the aim of the change is to improve the levels of confidence of citizens in democratic institutions and the people who work in them.

Under the new law, about 100 mayors, 700 council members, 37 deputies, and 13 senators will not be able to run again in the next elections.