Opposition starts impeachment procedure against Piñera

Chile’s opposition has filed a constitutional accusation against President Sebastián Piñera related to the aftermath of the Pandora Papers. The measure will likely pass the Lower House and move to the Senate. Although unlikely to be impeached, Piñera becomes the only Chilean president to get accused twice in term.

Sixteen parliamentarians representing the Chilean opposition in the Lower House have constitutionally accused President Sebastián Piñera on Wednesday. He is accused of lack of probity and compromising the honor, institutions, and sovereignty of the country. The accusations are based on his offshore activities exposed in the Pandora Papers.

These publications revealed the president’s family sold a controversial mining project to a close friend. Part of the sale was an agreement regarding the third payment, which would only come through if the area surrounding the Dominga project would not be declared a protected zone. The previous government left the conditions for this declaration in place, but the Piñera administration dismantled them, enabling the mining project to advance.

Socialist Party-member Jaime Naranjo said in a statement the opposition accuses Piñera of “openly infringing the Constitution in relation to the principle of probity and for seriously compromising the honor of the nation.” Tomás Hirsch, member of Humanist Action party, added, “we hope the representatives of the ruling party, if they study seriously and responsibly all the background information that we provide in this accusation, also support it. It is absolutely unacceptable that a president is using his office for personal business, to favor his family, carrying out operations in tax havens through his children’s companies.”

Also read:

Pandora Papers: criminal investigation into Piñera’s offshore dealings announced

What now?

The Lower House has formed a commission, comprising three opposition and two ruling coalition members, to analyze the constitutional accusation. Piñera will have 10 days to respond. The commission will draft a report based upon the accusation and that response.

After receiving the report, a simple Lower House majority must vote to send the accusation to the Senate. While the measure is likely to pass the opposition-controlled Lower House, a two-thirds majority is needed in the Senate, where ruling coalition Chile Vamos holds 15 of the 43 seats, making impeachment unlikely. Still, starting an impeachment procedure is a strong blow to Piñera, who is the first Chilean president to be constitutionally accused twice during one term.

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