Historia de las constituciones

History of our constitutions

During the course of our history, we have had several different Constitutions, attempts at a constitution and constitutional regulations over the last 200 years.

  • Shortly after Independence, when we were taking the first steps towards becoming a Republic, the political and social context was complicated. In the period known as the ‘Patria Vieja’ (1810-1814), governments were very unstable, and three very different ways of organizing Chile were proposed. There were three attempts to write constitution, in 1811, 1812 and 1814, which differed widely.

  • Project for Provisional Constitution for the State of Chile.

    After the Battle of Chacabuco (1817), Bernardo O’Higgins headed the government. To guarantee his mandate, he called on seven men to form a committee and write a new “Provisional Constitution”. This determined that the Chilean nation could establish its government and pass its own laws, and officially recognized the separation of the three powers – Executive (Supreme Director), Legislative (Senate) and Judicial (Supreme Court) – very similar to what we have in Chile today. This Constitution was approved in a plebiscite in 1818, but only people who lived between Copiapó and Cauquenes could vote.

  • Political Constitution of the State of Chile.

    To consolidate the Independence of Chile, and try to calm the discontent of other politicians with O’Higgins, an election was held of a Preparatory Convention, consisting of 32 deputies, tasked with writing a new Constitution

    The text approved in October 1822 says that the Government of Chile shall be representative and shall have three powers: Legislative, Executive and Judicial. It also declares that “all Chileans are equal before the law without distinction of rank or privilege”.

  • Political Constitution of the State of Chile called the "Moralist Constitution”

    In 1823 a Constituent Congress, consisting of five deputies plus the lawyer Juan Egaña, undertook the drafting of a new Constitution. It was known as the “Moralist Constitution” because it contained articles to regulate the moral conduct of citizens and public officials. Furthermore, it gave broad powers to the Supreme Director and determined that the Apostolic Roman Catholic faith was the official religion of the State of Chile.

  • Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile

    A Constituent Congress led by liberal politicians proposed a new constitutional text. At this time there was a clash between the ideas of the conservatives, who preferred centralism, and the federalists, who believed in the independent power of the provinces and the decentralization of power.

    In 1828 this new Constitution was born; it gave greater autonomy to the provinces, put an end to slavery, established rights like liberty, property and freedom of opinion, and extended the right to suffrage.

  • Constitution of the Republic of Chile

    After the Civil War of 1830, a Grand Convention was created consisting of 36 people, “upright and educated” deputies and citizens, to draft a new Constitution. They sought to give more power to the conservative, authoritarian ideas of Diego Portales.

    The 1833 Constitution gave extensive powers to the President of the Republic, who started to be called the ‘Supreme Head of the Nation’: he was at the head of both the administration and the government of the State. This was the longest-lasting Constitution of our country; it was passed on May 25th, 1833, and remained in force until the coup d’état of September 1924.

  • Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile

    After a major political crisis, President Arturo Alessandri Palma designated a Consultative Committee of 122 people with the task of writing a new Constitution, which was approved by a referendum in September 1925.

    This Constitution did away with the parliamentary system, and Chile adopted a presidential system. Since then, the President has been both the Head of State and the leader of the government, with power to appoint and dismiss ministers. It also instituted the separation of church and state, and gave protection to labor and to industry.

  • Constitution of the Republic of Chile

    The military dictatorship formed the “Ortúzar Committee”. Seven men and 2 women designated by the Military Junta drafted the pre-project for a new Constitution. In the referendum of October 1980, the Constitution was approved with 65.71% of the votes cast; however, this result was questioned due to the lack of electoral rolls and the context of restricted public liberties.

    The 1980 Constitution defined a strongly presidential system. Among other features, it created the positions of designated senators and senators-for-life (who could remain in office until their death).

  • Proposal for a new Constitution

    After millions of people came out to protest in 2019 for various social demands that had built up over time, a cross-party political agreement was reached which led to an unprecedented process to change the existing Constitution. This involved a referendum held in October 2020, in which the voters decided to start drafting a new fundamental charter through a Constitutional Convention, consisting of 77 women and 77 men, democratically elected.

  • Referendum of September 4th, 2022

    On September 4th we will vote in a referendum to Approve or Reject the proposed text for the Constitution. Voting will be MANDATORY and your polling place will be near your home.

    Why is this process historic?

    Because for the first time, we are all part of this process and we can decide how to change our history, being properly informed, thinking about yesterday and building for today… and the future.

September 4th, 2022, is a historic day. And you will be part of it, voting in a referendum to approve or reject the proposal for a new Constitution.