Centralization And Territorial Autonomy In Chile

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Centralization and territorial autonomy in Chile

First of all and it is worth the reader that the title is a certain paraphrase and recognition of one of Norberto Bobbio’s books that illuminate the development of this essay and the discussion about the possibility of discussing and tensioning the possibility of discussing The order of the State within the framework of the constitutional process in Chile and the opportunities that the discussion of territorial autonomies and a new model of interrelationships gives conflicts in the field of development and recognition of the original peoples.

Becoming part of the assertion of Oszlak and O’Donnell, which indicates that “no society has the capacity or resources to address the list of needs and demands of its members. Only some are ‘problematized’, in the sense that certain classes, class fractions, organizations, groups or even strategically located individuals believe that it can and should be done ‘something’ in their respect and are in a position to promote their incorporation into the agenda of socially in force problems ”(Oszlak & O’Donnell, 2011), this would indicate that the tension on the control of the political agenda and the demands the route of resolution and preferential position by those interested in the resolution in the resolution in the way of resolution State.

The pandemic and the economic and social crisis that has brought associated, have put in tension and evidence worldwide and in particular in the case of our country, the urgent need to have the State in all its deployment in order to have a complete network that delivers the widest coverage to the needs of the population. As, when and how deeply that deployment of the different coverage of the State, both in this case of catastrophe, and in normal situations, both with citizens who have less economic resources, and with the sectors of higher income, seem like be the permanent tension to be resolved with the deployment of the different public policies and their different strata and scope of coverage.

Therefore, and as will be developed in this work, it is necessary accounting for citizen needs and demands.

Looking in a critical sense of differences and similarities between institutional regimes in federal and unit countries in Latin America and reviewing debates on new institutionality, governance and territorial management modalities., It is possible to visualize different and possible ways to move towards a more inclusive development model and with greater guarantees and opportunities for social recognition.

It is here where concepts of autonomy and intertritorial solidarity appear as urgent needs, the Chilean constitutional order only expressly mentions the terms equity and solidarity one in it, article 115, INC. 1st and 3rd, respectively and in no way making details on territorial autonomy and decision -making by the citizenship of these specific territories. While the art. 3rd, inc. 2nd, of the Constitution he mentions "the equitable and solidarity development" and the aforementioned art. 115, inc. 1, which collects that expression, points out that “the laws that are issued for this purpose must ensure compliance and application of said principle, also incorporating solidarity criteria between the regions, as within them, in relation to the distribution of Public resources, nowhere incorporates space into an opening towards territorial autonomy or subnational decisions.

This tension, in its most classical and ideological resolution, has been resolved through the interpretation that formal political structures, mainly unions and political parties, have made the social dispute, which has been presented as a vehicle to lead this conflict; But how do we fit this in the S.XXI?, In a democracy based on a more empowered and more demanding citizenship of democratic deepening, with diffuse agendas (in terms of classic clivaje), transverse and amplified in a hyperconnected world, how does the State take care of the problem of demand and Interest groups that move faster and regroup more agilely than state machinery?; Perhaps they are new actors, demands and ways of interpretation of the social dispute, which must deliver to the State the way of addressing public policies.

Centralization problem in Chile

In the Latin American case, except for Mexico and Colombia, all the other countries of the region have had to date, periods of less than 40 years of democratic continuity, so also added to the bipolarity characteristic between left and right that characterizes Regional policy makes it difficult to think about deep social transformation processes in the construction of a welfare and processes state with a view to the decentralization and deepening of decision -making by subnational territories or autonomies of different depth.

In Chile, the constitutional reform of 2005 came to close a first stage of consolidation of the democratic process after a process of dismantling public policies during the military dictatorship, this first stage with more uncertainties than certainties, encompassed in the determined fight against the extreme poverty and the process of modernization of infrastructure, developed with a backdrop, but not less important, such as the processes of truth, justice and repair to human rights violations.

This first democratic cycle in Chile, mainly oriented in the values ​​of economic recovery and the normalization of justice processes, led to a more demanding relationship of the State regarding public policies, these should no longer be oriented only to the improvement of problems of coverage, if a more demanding citizenship of quality of this coverage and above all of improvement and universality of the state’s coverage began to emerge, with a preferential focus on participation in decision -making, territorial targeting and decisions that also incorporate resolutions On cultural problems, traditional autonomies territories of traditional authorities and other problems that are traditionally not found under the focus of public policies that normalize the problem of coverage and focus as priority variables, today appearing a more complex network of considerations outside the Traditional Clivajes o Canonical planning approaches, this need for deep participation had been expressed by Dilma Rousseff “we know that democracy generates a desire for more democracy. Social inclusion requires more social inclusion. The quality of life awakens the desire for the highest quality of life " . Already in 2014, Michelle Bachelet, anticipating the process and constitutional discussion, began to propose openings no longer from the centrality of the State … and I think that is expressed very clearly in the citizenship that today we see in our Latin America, a citizenship that demands, that demands, to control, but also have full awareness of their needs. And this citizenship wants to participate actively in the solutions of urgent problems of education, health, housing ..

What does this mean? It seems that a central area is to resume the path of mutual trust, to generate convergences, but from our own diversity. And I think that in that diversity of truth that is our wealth. It is from the difference, in reality, where we can project the common interests that identify us as a region in the concert of the nations …

According to the data developed by the OECD Chile, it is among the most centralized countries of the organization, together with Greece and Ireland. In 2014, government subnational expenses in Chile represented a 3.0% of GDP and 13.1% of public expenses, which contrasts with the average OECD.6% and 40.2% respectively (Dazarola, 2019). In the Chilean case, this process of excessive centralism can be one of the main responses to the accentuated differences in territorial development and the processes of autonomy claims of the original peoples, mainly by the Mapuche people, which has a more extensive distribution territorial, number of individuals, exposure of poverty problems and cultural distancing with the State.

Comparative processes

In the Spanish case, from the constitutional discussions of 1931, it was tried. Those states that lived dispersed have been federated and wanted to meet in community ”, perhaps this result is the Autonomous State, it is presented as more flexible to the tension that globalization imposes on federalism, the subjection of the external agenda (World Bank, International Treaties , IMF) and the autonomy of the local agenda and the response that this agenda must by the Union, tensioning the interests of citizenship and the external obligations of the State. This process is also an opportunity for the flexibility that local governments have to legitimately process global interests making them development and positioning engine of the local agenda.

In the present work, federal regulations have been expressly excluded to focus on ordering statutes that mediate between the unit state and the federal state, constitutional articulated of Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador have been reviewed in the Latin American field, also adding to Spain and Portugal, due to their express condition of regional states in the European case. In the indicated examples, the following topics appear as relevant:

  1. Relevance of the construction of the political-administrative order from the subnational government to the higher levels.
  2. Recognition of particular territorialities and express incorporations in the constitutional order of original peoples and historical nationalities
  3. Recognition of particular productive conditions in the territories and protection of local economies
  4. Decision autonomies and mandate revocations
  5. Fiscal autonomy and transfer of powers from the central state
  6. Flexibility in the territorial structure and incorporation of territorial inter associativity.


Autonymy and Social Cohesion

Fundamentally the problems expressed in multiple field work, as well as by the political process that is expressed in these territories, accounts different degrees from territorial political autonomy to secession claims to the State.

It is possible to appreciate that it is a common and independent factor to the intensity of the political claim, the existence of enormous differences in the development of these territories, apparently being the theme to priority together with the political-administrative autonomy. The proposal of new modalities of participation and management at the territorial level that articulate organizations of the State and civil society, is necessarily proposed as a way of channeling of the demands of autonomy and reformulation of the State-citizenship relationship.

The works of various authors have shown that people belonging to indigenous peoples are on average poorer than those belonging to the non -indigenous population and this result is maintained by separating urban, rural areas and the capital of the country separately (Santiago). Additionally, estimates show that Mapuche and Aymará peoples generally have the highest poverty rates. (Agostini, Brown, & Andrei, 2010), a situation that is possible to review with updated data that has remained unchanged or with a marginal decrease.

Probably the restitution or deepening of social cohesion, whether the fundamental and central process of the discussion on the processes of autonomy or redefinition of relations to the State in its intra -ritorial aspects.

It is difficult to positively evaluate a process of territorial reboils that can be effective in its bureaucratic or economic aspects and is not based on an increase in social cohesion, its long -term stability and the effective implementation of this new territorial relationship are probably not assured. –


Public policies will necessarily take a new course from the 2020 crisis, new paradigms of inclusion, participation and democratic depth, necessarily with a new focus on the infrastructure of relations, with a new exploration on the ethical framework in which We interact, putting in the center no longer class disputes and traditional clivatives, if not the difference that is the predominant cultural value today, it is perhaps the culture of difference that should be the articulating axis of our social structure Future with a political infrastructure capable of incorporating new paradigms that make it more complex and inclusive, proposing local governance in the construction of more participatory relationship forms towards the State and flexibility of the model with different governance modalities, incorporating new networks of actors actors , mostly currently excluded, do not replace if they do not interact more hori Zontally with traditional political networks, articulate state organizations and civil society, proposing a new role of local governments.  

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