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Key year for electoral issues

In the talk "Conversations about a new Constitution" organized by the Network of Women in Senior Management (REDMAD), our partner Miguel Flores highlighted the importance of decentralization in the constituent debate and the role that the first elected Regional Governors in the country's history will play in this matter. For a detailed look at the scope of the heretofore little-known functions these new authorities will have, we invited Andrea Balladares, our Public Affairs Consultant, to write the column published at the end of this note.

9 April 2021

Who participated? Andrea Repetto, economist and Director of the Center for Labor Policies at the Adolfo Ibáñez University; Germán Concha, attorney and Partner at Concha y Zavala; with Teresa Matamala, General Manager of Entorno Social and Founding Partner of REDMAD, serving as moderator of the virtual meeting.

What did they say?

  • The Constitution’s role is to tell all of us that no matter what happens, whoever wins, whoever governs, there is a certain core of the system that is protected,” explained Concha regarding the Constitution’s gravitational role.
  • For her part, Andrea Repetto delved into the social, economic and cultural rights contained in the current Constitution and affirmed that “although the Constitution will not magically solve our problems, it can unblock some problems that have been dragging on for a long time.
  • Lastly, our partner Miguel Flores referred to the challenges of decentralization and pointed out that “Chile continues to be one of the most centralized countries. We are on the verge of one of our most foundational elections, which is that of Regional Governors, a role about which there is a lot of misinformation,” he went on to say.

 

Azerta Column

The New Regional Puzzle

This year Chile will introduce two new political authorities with the aim of making a “quantum leap” in decentralization. However, there are gray areas remaining in regard to the role that each will play, so they will undoubtedly have to undergo an important adjustment period.

 

By Andrea Balladares (*)

In 2021, for the first time in the history of Chile, citizens will elect Regional Governors. At present, the administrative division of our country is made up of regions, controlled by an Intendant, and these in turn are subdivided into provinces controlled by a Governor. Both authorities served at the pleasure of the President and were appointed to their positions directly by the central authority.

With the approval of the new decentralization law, these figures have changed in terms of their functions and powers. A new position of  Regional Governor was created, and the office holder will no longer be appointed by the President but will be democratically elected. Therefore, the new regional authority, whose essential function is to ensure the transfer and distribution of resources to the projects defined during the regional development plan, will have to have the support of the citizens to run for this position, which has a four-year term and allowance for one further elected term.

Furthermore, the new law determined that the former Intendant will now be known as the Regional Presidential Delegate, who will be responsible for representing the President in the region. In addition, this person will be in charge of ensuring compliance with public order, handling emergencies, managing the regional cabinet, as well as all other tasks entrusted to them by the sitting president.

The challenge for the new authorities going forward will be to create public policies that are suitable for each geographic area and its particular needs, while prioritizing territorial development as a fundamental part of human progress and people’s quality of life.

But this process, which will need some fine-tuning, may also produce friction between the two regional authorities as both will be involved in common activities and tasks, and this overlap could complicate their relationship, for example in deciding who will really have the last word in case of an emergency. Resolving this issue will undoubtedly not be easy, but it will be very interesting to watch, especially during this first year, which will be an adjustment period for these two positions that will be essential to effectively decentralizing the country.

(*) Public Affairs Consultant at Azerta.