Deepening democracy? promises and challenges of Chiles road to a new constitution Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2021

start page

  • 335

end page

  • 358


  • 13

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1876-4045

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1876-4053


  • As a response to mass mobilizations against the political and social status quo, a multiparty agreement activated a process to replace the constitution in Chile, three decades after the country┬┐s transition to democracy. I argue that this process has three features that are not only desirable on normative grounds but also shared by successful episodes of constitutional replacement in democratic regimes: the drafting of the new text in an assembly bound by preexisting rules, inclusive mechanisms of representation and decision making, and direct citizen involvement. These features, in interaction with the popular repudiation of the elite-biased institutions inherited from the Pinochet era, might lead to a new constitutional arrangement that deepens democratization by expanding citizen rights, strengthening executive constraints, and removing restrictions on majority rule. Yet the realization of the full democratic potential of this constitutional change depends on the still uncertain ability of constitution makers to compromise on a text that is not only seen as legitimate among ordinary citizens but also promotes coherent goals, effective institutions, and good governance.


  • constitutional change; social mobilization; authoritarian legacies; democratization; chile