Senate of Chile

Senate of Chile
Senate of Chile
Senado de la República de Chile
Type Upper House
President of the Senate Guido Girardi, PPD
since March 15, 2011
Vice-President of the Senate Juan Pablo Letelier, PS
since March 15, 2011
Members 38
Political groups Concertación
Coalition for Change
Last election December 13, 2009
Meeting place
Senate Chamber
National Congress of Chile

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The Senate of the Republic of Chile is the upper house of Chile's bicameral National Congress, as established in the current Constitution of Chile.



According to the present Constitution of Chile, the Senate is composed of thirty-eight directly elected senators, chosen by universal popular suffrage vote in 19 senatorial circumscriptions. These serve eight-year terms, with half of them being replaced every fourth year. They must be eligible to vote, have completed secondary school, or its equivalent, and be at least 35 years old.

The Senate sessions at the new (1990) National Congress located in the port city of Valparaíso, which replaced the old National Congress located in downtown Santiago, the nation's capital.

Abolition of the unelected

Amendments to the Constitution, approved by a joint session of Congress on August 16, 2005, eliminated non-directly elected senators from March 11, 2006, the day 20 newly-elected senators were sworn in, leaving the total number of senators at 38, all directly elected. Previously, according to the Constitution of 1980, "designated" or "institutional" senators were appointed to the chamber. Two former heads of state, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle and Augusto Pinochet, were installed as senators for life. Pinochet later resigned from this position and Frei lost his seat in the 2005 reform. However, Frei remained in the Senate by winning an elective seat.

Historical evolution

The Senate of Chile was created in 1812 to support the formulations of policies of the Government Junta. Since then it has undergone several constitutional reorganizations that have altered the scope of its constitutional powers, its composition and the generation of its members.

First senate

Created by Article 7 of the Provisional Constitutional Manual of 1812. It was composed of seven titular members (one for each province) and three alternate members and was supposed to serve as a counter-balance to the executive power of the Government Junta. The senators were directly nominated by the provinces in agreement with the central government. It functioned from November, 1812 to January, 1814, when it was reorganized to better respond to the problems caused by the successive military defeats at the hands of the advancing Spanish Army.

Consultive senate

Created by Article 13 of the Provisional Government Manual of 1814. As its predecessor, it was composed of seven titular members (only) nominated by the provinces in lists of three from which they were selected by the Supreme Director. It functioned from March to July, 1814, when the Spanish Army captured Santiago, putting an end to the Patria Vieja government.

First conservative senate

Created by Title III of the Constitution of 1818. It was composed of five titular members and five alternate members selected directly by the Supreme Director. It was supposed to function only when the lower house was not in function or could not meet, and had the power to enact "provisory rules" that had the same effect as laws (hence the "conservative" moniker, because it "conserved" the power.) It functioned from October, 1818 to May, 1822.

Political composition (2006-2010)

Affiliation Members  %
Coalition for Change (coalition) 17 44.74
    Independent Democrat Union 9 23.68
    National Renewal 7 18.42
    ChileFirst 1 2.63
Concertación (coalition) 15 39.47
    Socialist Party 6 15.79
    Christian Democrat Party 5 13.16
    Social Democrat Radical Party 3 7.89
    Party for Democracy 1 2.63
Parties not in coalition 2 5.26
    Broad Social Movement 1 2.63
    Regionalist Party of the Independent 1 2.63
Independent senators 4 10.53
Total 38 100.00
Current Senate composition
Color Key:   = Coalition for Change   = Concertación   = MAS
  = PRI   = Independent

Senators (2006-2010)

Senate composition from March 11, 2006 to March 11, 2010.

Constituency Region Name Party Last elected
1 Arica and Parinacota
Fernando Flores Labra CH1[1] 2001
Jaime Orpis Bouchon UDI 2001
2 Antofagasta Carlos Cantero Ojeda Ind.[2] 2005
José Antonio Gómez Urrutia PRSD 2005
3 Atacama Ricardo Núñez Muñoz PS 2001
Baldo Prokurica Prokurica
(Vice-President, March 12, 2008-March 13, 2009)
RN 2001
4 Coquimbo Evelyn Matthei Fornet UDI 2005
Jorge Pizarro Soto PDC 2005
5 Valparaíso Carlos Ominami Pascual
(Vice-President, March 11, 2006-March 12, 2008)
Ind.[3] 2001
Sergio Romero Pizarro RN 2001
6 Nelson Ávila Contreras PRSD[4] 2001
Jorge Arancibia Reyes UDI 2001
7 Santiago Guido Girardi Lavín PPD 2005
Jovino Novoa Vásquez
(President, March 13, 2009–present)
UDI 2005
8 Pablo Longueira Montes UDI 2005
Soledad Alvear Valenzuela PDC 2005
9 O'Higgins Andrés Chadwick Piñera UDI 2005
Juan Pablo Letelier Morel PS 2005
10 Maule Jaime Gazmuri Mujica PS 2001
Juan Antonio Coloma Correa UDI 2001
11 Jaime Naranjo Ortiz PS 2001
Hernán Larraín Fernández UDI 2001
12 Biobío Alejandro Navarro Brain MAS[5] 2005
Hosain Sabag Castillo PDC 2005
13 Mariano Ruiz-Esquide Jara PDC 2005
Víctor Pérez Varela UDI 2005
14 Araucanía Roberto Muñoz Barra Ind.[6] 2001
Alberto Espina Otero RN 2001
15 Guillermo Vásquez Úbeda PRSD[7] 2005
José García Ruminot RN 2001
16 Los Ríos
(plus District 55)
Andrés Allamand Zavala RN 2005
Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
(President, March 11, 2006-March 12, 2008)
PDC 2005
17 Los Lagos
(minus District 55)
Camilo Escalona Medina PS 2005
Carlos Kuschel Silva RN 2005
18 Aisén Adolfo Zaldívar Larraín
(President, March 12, 2008-March 13, 2009)
PRI[8] 2001
Antonio Horvath Kiss RN 2001
19 Magallanes Carlos Bianchi Chelech
(Vice-President, March 13, 2009–present)
Ind. 2005
Pedro Muñoz Aburto PS 2005

See also


  1. ^ Elected as a PPD member, but quit the party in January 2007, after corruption scandals. He is currently the leader of ChileFirst.
  2. ^ Elected as RN member, but quit the party in November 2007, after conflicts with the party leadership.
  3. ^ Elected as a PS member, but quit the party in June 2009 to seek reelection as independent in the 2009 election.
  4. ^ Elected as a PPD member, but quit the party in March 2003. He joined the PRSD in March 2005.
  5. ^ Elected as a PS member, but quit the party in November 2008 to form his own political party, Broad Social Movement (MAS). He has pledged he will remain loyal to President Michelle Bachelet.
  6. ^ Elected as a PPD member, but left the party in July 2009.
  7. ^ He replaced Jorge Lavandero (PDC), who was accused of child abuse.
  8. ^ Elected as a PDC member, but was expelled in December 2007, after voting against party wishes on some critical legislation and for criticizing the party leadership. He joined the PRI in July 2009.

External links

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