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Chile's government ratifies laws to strengthen democracy

PUBLISHED:
18/04/2016
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In a ceremony held at Chile's National Museum of History, 11 April, President Michelle Bachelet passed a Law for the Strengthening and Transparency of Democracy (Law No. 20900), and a Law to Strengthen the Public and Democratic Nature of Political Parties and Facilitate their Streamlining (Law No. 20915).

These two laws supplement five other laws, and together they all make up the Probity Agenda. These five laws are as follows:

  1. the Law on Losing Seats;
  2. Law on Probity in Public Office;
  3. a constitutional reform granting autonomy to Servel;
  4. an indication regulating organization and powers of Servel; and
  5. the Law on Civic Education in Public Places.

All of these laws have gone through the entire process at the National Congress.

"Chile deserves the [kind of] politics that is done right up-front, that has nothing to hide, [and] that is subject to public scrutiny, to a healthy competition and to transparency", said President Bachelet in her speech. "The [kind of] politics that is based on ideas rather than slogans, where there is [true] dialogue, and where diversity is acknowledged, and a common good is created. A [kind of politics] which sole objectives are the well-being, freedom, and peace of persons", she added.

Regarding the policy changes on the strengthening and transparency of democracy, and the streamlining and strengthening of the public nature of political parties, President Bachelet pointed out that with these laws "we are laying down new rules for our democracy. We are doing what is necessary for democracy to be a space for fair play. We don't want for Chile [the kind of] politics that is done either behind people's backs or that may be seen to be contaminated by money. We don't want the winner to be the one who puts up more signs or the one who hires more brigades. We don't want parties to decide on designations through hand-picking. Nor do we want any barriers for those who want to work selflessly for their country. We don't want women or youngsters to be left out of political leadership. [...] As from now, with these new laws, the rules of the political game in Chile have changed. They are more demanding, more transparent, with clear prohibitions and [the possibility of] losing their seats for those involved in offenses. Companies will no longer be able to finance candidates, among other prohibitions."

Bachelet continued along this line of thought and said: "The rules that we have passed today lay down a series of measures that impose very precise obligations and boundaries on political party and electoral activity, among other aspects, so that political party life is rendered more transparent and democratic, and the power of money is positively eliminated from electoral finances."

International IDEA was represented in this meaningful ceremony by its Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Daniel Zovatto. Zovatto was also—at the President's request—a member of her Advisory Committee to fight corruption, influence peddling and conflicts of interest.