Electoral engineering in Chile: the electoral system and limited democracy

Gideon Rahat*, Mario Sznajder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


On the eve of Chile's transition from military to elected government, the outgoing regime enacted an electoral engineering project intended to conserve the constitutional order it encoded in 1980. An analysis of 1989 and 1993 general elections shows that the way votes are translated into seats favors, as intended, the second largest electoral block, the Chilean Right. This bias, along with the number of appointed senators and the special majorities required for constitutional amendments, gives the Right a minority veto power on any reform initiative. Moreover, the electoral system produces incentives for parties, candidates and voters that enhances this balance of power. The role that the electoral system plays in Chile therefore consolidates a limited form of democracy, rather than a liberal one.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)429-442
Number of pages14
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998


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