Chile, along with Uruguay, is generally considered to have the most democratic of the present governments of Latin America, as well as one possessing a relatively high degree of political stability. Under a constitutional framework instituted in 1925 to remedy shortcomings of the preceding “parliamentary” government (1891-1925), Chile is now operating under a “presidential” type of government.
During the period prior to 1925, 138 ministries passed fleetingly across the governmental stage, including one whose role lasted less than twenty-four hours. More significant, however, than the rapid rotation of ministers during the parliamentary era were the insufficiency of executive power and the marked lack of legislative concern not only for cabinet stability but even for the performance of essential governmental functions. The most serious result of this congressional attitude was legislative stagnation, highlighted by the frequent failure of the Congress to approve the budget and enact other necessary measures. Accordingly, it was intended, in framing a new basic charter for Chile, to enhance the position of the chief executive, to increase ministerial stability, and to provide for greater legislative responsibility, at least to the extent of assuring a minimum law-making job. To what extent have these ends been achieved, and how does the presidential system operate in Chile?