DC and RN move forward with changes to Chile’s binomial system

By Abigail Olmstead
Published On : Tue, Jan 31st, 2012

Parties are now working to create concrete ideas and set March as hopeful deadline.

In a continued show of bipartisan politics, the center-right National Renewal (RN) and center-left Christian Democrats (DC) held a meeting Monday to appoint Andrés Zaldívar and Jorge Burgos to head their initiative on binomial reform.

dc rn binomial system

Zaldívar, an RN senator, and Burgos, an RN deputy, will attempt to work with President Sebastián Piñera, who is an RN member himself, on the reform and hope to have a formal bill submitted to Congress by March.

Along with DC Sen. Ignacio Walker, the two parties want to take the proposal their parties had previously submitted and turn it into a concrete political blueprint for changing the binomial system.

“I tend to think that there is no turning back regarding commitment that we have made with all these political forces, with the exception of the UDI, on the subject of political reform,” Walker told La Tercera.

Chile’s current binomial electoral system gives undue representation to fringe political parties by forcing parties to create alliances which nominate their own candidates. Parties can still win seats even if they achieve far less than a majority of the votes.

Defenders of the binomial system believe it promotes negation between parties and provides Chile with electoral stability, while others feel that it does not accurately represent Chile’s people and is a holdover from the Gen. Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).

The RN and DC surprised many when the two parties submitted a joint proposal on changes to the binomial system in mid-January. Their proposal called for semi-presidency system, which would have an elected president who would handle matter state matters, and an appointed prime minister who would be the head of the government.

Soon after, La Concertación submitted a similar proposal calling for moderated, proportional representation in the electoral system.

The resolve on the part of La Concertación and RN comes after Piñera announced his agenda for 2012 on Monday, leaving political reform to the bottom of the list. Some suspect pressure from the UDI, who stand to lose the most if the binomial system was replaced, for the Piñera’s lack of attention on the reform.

The meeting between the DC and RN Monday also saw the two entities desire to fold the proposals by RN-DC and La Concertación into one.

By Stephen Shea (editor@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2011 – The Santiago Times

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