New Bill Forces Dozens of Congresspeople To Leave

SANTIAGO – Chile’s Senate failed to change a small line in a term limits bill, and its House of Representatives is taking advantage of the mistake. The Senate voted in favor of term limits but rejected a provision that would have applied it retroactively; the Senate intended that the bill would take effect in 2022, but due to a mistake it will be effective immediately upon passing. This mistake could affect the reelection of over 49 current congresspeople.

After many delays, a bill to set term limits passed in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives (la Cámara de Diputados). However, the Senate struck down the part of the bill that made the term limits retroactive. This was met with harsh criticism as many of the senators who voted against retroactivity have been in Congress for over 20 years.

After the vote, the bill went back to the House of Representatives for final approval. During their discussion, it was discovered that although the Senate had struck down the retroactivity provision, the Senate had not revised the in actum norm that was specified in the bill, meaning it would nevertheless apply to all elected officials currently serving their terms, instead of those in office after the elections of 2022, as the Senate originally intended. 

The way the bill passed, representatives can be reelected twice, meaning that they can have three four-year terms for a total of 12 years. The same rule applies to local council members and mayors. Senators, on the other hand, can only be reelected once, which means they can serve two eight-year terms for a total of 16.

This bill marks the first time in Chilean history that elected officials have limited reelection bids except for the president.

If signed into law, it will limit the reelection bids of 13 current senators and 36 current representatives, as well as numerous mayors and town council members (see full list below).

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Who Supports the Bill?

During its second pass through Congress, the bill received overwhelming support with 136 votes in favor, nine against, and seven abstentions. After its approval, the president of the House of Representatives, Diego Paulsen, said “This will help get new people in, and with that new projects, in the Congress.”

The Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party rejected the bill by stating that it sought to eliminate the competition and that it won’t make politics any better.

Now that both chambers have approved the bill, it only needs to be approved and signed by the president after which it will become a law.

Congresspeople That Can’t Get Reelected

Senators who will leave in 2022:
  • Andrés Allamand (RN)
  • Víctor Pérez (UDI)
  • Carlos Bianchi (Independiente)
  • Alejandro Navarro (País Progresista)
  • Jorge Pizarro (DC)
  • Guido Girardi (PPD)
  • Juan Pablo Letelier (PS)
Senators who will leave in 2026:
  • Francisco Cahuán (RN)
  • José García Ruminot (RN)
  • Juan Antonio Coloma (UDI)
  • Ricardo Largos Weber (PPD)
  • Jaime Quintana (PPD)
  • Isabel Allende (PS)
Deputies who can’t get reelected in the next elections:

Independent Democratic Union (UDI):

  • Patricio Melero (served 8 terms)
  • Ramón Barros (5)
  • Iván Norambuena (5)
  • Javier Hernández (5)
  • María José Hoffmann (3)
  • Issa Kort (3)
  • Javier Macaya (3)
  • Pedro Álvarez-Salamanca (3)
  • Celso Morales (3)
  • Enrique Van Rysselberghe (3)

National Renewal (RN):

  • René Manuel García (8)
  • Alejandra Sepúlveda (5)
  • Leopoldo Pérez (3)
  • Marcela Sabat (3)
  • Alejandro Santana (3)

Christian Democrats (DC):

  • José Miguel Ortiz (8)
  • Mario Venegas (4)
  • Jorge Sabag (4)
  • Gabriel Silber (4)
  • Víctor Torres (3)
  • Matías Walker (3)

Socialist Party (PS):

  • Fidel Espinoza (5)
  • Marcelo Schilling (4)
  • Manuel Monsalve (4)
  • Juan Luis Castro (3)

Party for Democracy (PPD):

  • Rodrigo González (5)
  • Tucapel Jiménez (4)
  • Cristina Girardi (3)

Radical Party (PR):

  • Carlos Jarpa (6)
  • José Pérez (6)
  • Fernando Meza (5)

Communist Party (PC):

  • Hugo Gutiérrez (3)
  • Guilliermo Teillier (3)

Republican Party:

  • Ignacio Urrutia (5)

Independent deputies:

  • Pablo Lorenzini (6)
  • Pepe Auth (3)
  • René Saffirio (3)

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