POLITICS

The Right Edges Out The Left To Win Chamber Presidency

SANTIAGO – The opposition coalition lost the presidency of the lower house of Chile’s Congress. Diego Paulsen of the Chile Vamos Coalition won with two votes, Francisco Undurraga of the same coalition, won one of the two vice president slots while Rodrigo González won the other. This marks a stunning upset over the opposition which had controlled that leadership position since President Sebastián Piñera took office in 2018.

Chile’s lower house of Congress, the Cámara de Diputadas y Diputados (Chamber of Representatives), recently elected Diego Paulsen of the National Renewal Party (RN) the new president of the Chamber. He is the youngest president of the Chamber since the return to democracy in 1990. He will be aided by two vice presidents, Francisco Undurraga of Evópoli and Rodrigo González of the Party for Democracy (PPD). González is the only member of the opposition to have won a seat at the head of the Chamber.

To be elected president of the Chamber, candidates only need a majority of votes in the Chamber. Representative Paulsen won by just two votes, receiving 58 to Christian Democracy (DC) candidate Gabriel Silber’s 56.

The first of two slots for vice president was a contest between Karol Cariola of the Communist Party (PC), who received 59 votes, and Undurraga, who received 61. The second slot was between the Independent Democratic Union (UDI) candidate, Jorge Alessandri, who received 56 votes, and González, who received a commanding 69 votes.

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Who is Diego Paulsen?

Born in 1987, Paulsen is the youngest representative to be elected to lead the Chamber since the return of democracy. Raised in Temuco, Paulsen went on to study law at the Adolfo Ibañez University, graduating in 2012.

In June 2013, he won the primary to be the representative candidate for the 49th district which is in the Araucanía Region. Later that same year, he won the general election. In 2017, he won again as the representative of the newly created 22nd district, which included some municipalities from his former district.

What Does the President of the Chamber Do?

The Chamber presidency was created in 1811, and the person who holds that office is the third in line for the presidency of the country after the president of the Senate (the upper house of Chile’s bicameral Congress). The Chamber president’s term lasts for about a year.

The Chamber president’s duties include presiding over debates in the Chamber, declaring the admissibility of bills, and keeping the order inside the Chamber. The Chamber president is also in charge of setting the order in which bills are discussed and the amount of time given for debates.

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