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You Win Some, You Lose Some: Constitutional Reforms in Chile's Transition to Democracy

From: Latin American Politics & Society
Volume 49, Number 3, Fall 2007
pp. 163-190 | 10.1353/lap.2007.0032


Chile's 1989 constitutional reforms constituted a trade-off: the military gave up protected democracy provisions but acquired greater autonomy. The democratic opposition could accept or reject, but not modify, constitutional changes proposed by the outgoing dictatorship. This study addresses a very limited time period in the

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transition to democracy: the moment after the transition has been secured and transitional rules have been established. The dynamics of this period differ markedly from those in the larger democratic transition. The approach in this study complements alternative explanations of why the 1989 reforms benefited the outgoing dictatorship more than the incoming democratic government. Although the outgoing regime granted several opposition demands by reducing restrictions on political pluralism and eliminating barriers to political party activity, it also secured provisions that made the military more independent of civilian authorities than originally conceived in the 1980 Constitution.

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