Chile moves towards decentralisation

The Senate of the Republic of Chile hosted, last 14th of May, the First National Seminar 'Conceptual and political framework for decentralisation', geared towards discussing the constitutional framework for the effective decentralisation of the country. ORU strongly supports this decentralisation process, which has achieved in the last decades considerable progress in the form of constitutional reforms and projects that have allowed the devolution of powers to regional governments. 

The last step in this process is the draft legislation that the President of the Republic, Michelle Bachelet, signed at the end of 2014, and that will allow the citizens to elect the mayors for the first time. Until today they were officials trusted by the Presidency.  This reform is expected to enter into force in 2017 with the first elections of mayors, in which those elected by universal suffrage will assume their functions as President of the Regional Council  and Executive of the regional Government.  

This was precisely the topic of discussion in the Seminar held in the Senate’s hearing room. Organised by the Parliamentary Academy of the House of Representatives and the Foundation Chile Descentralizado, the Seminar served to appeal to the emergency of implementing the constitutional reform to elect the mayors, since it is necessary to empower the local governments and to provide them with power of decision.  According to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Marco Antonio Núñez, this is one of the main remaining tasks in the country in terms of decentralisation. 

Chile is, according to a study conducted in 2009 by the University of La Frontera, in Tamuco, "the most centralised country in Latin America, in relation to the size of its economy, population and territory”. Another report carried out in the same year by the Organisation for Economic cooperation and Development (OECD) points out that the country “still lacks an institutional framework that would allow each of the regions to use fully and to suit their own singularities the available resources”. 

For that matter, and to continue to move towards decentralisation in Chile, Marco Antonio Núñez expressed his wish not to drag out further the reform so that mayors can be elected in 2016, in the municipal elections. ORU’s support to the country’s decentralization process materialises in the meetings being held with the O’Higgins region to formalise its accession to the United Regions Organisation. 


Images: House of Representatives, Chile


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