Chile and Argentina are the countries which share their boundaries, have the same official language (Spanish), and they do have the very similar political history. In both countries, they have been under the authoritarian system, and now the democratic systems are very much enforced in their political systems. As they do have very common things, it will be very interesting to have a close look at the difference between these two countries’ political systems. As many countries are changing to have a democratic society, Chile and Argentina are also trying to use democratic political systems. During the dictatorship regimes in both countries, political situation was very much unstable and as a consequence of political instability, the other systems were very fragile. Throughout the time, these two countries have been changing their political systems as there was not such kind of government that the people willingly supported. However, nowadays, it can be assumed that their political systems are strong enough to have the countries function efficiently. In this paper, I will try to compare the political systems of these two countries, much focusing on how the system is based upon on Legislation, Execution, and Judiciary, and political parties in brief.
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Firstly, I will be discussing the similarity and difference of the legislation system of these two countries. The legislative branch of both countries made up of two houses, Senate and Chamber of Deputies. In the fact that “Chamber of Deputies of Argentina represent the people and elected, and it has 275 members which can be variable, and they are proportionally elected from each district, and one term is for four year for the member of the Chamber of Deputies, and have the rights to levy tax, send troop, prosecute the president, state ministers, and Supreme Court” ( Gisela, Emilse, Ezequiel, Julio. January, 2006). In Chile, “Chamber of Deputies is also directly elected for four year term, and it has 120 members (variable) and Proportionally elected from different regions, and the power of Senate and Chamber of Deputies are very mixed- they have most power as a whole” (mongabay, (n.d.)) If we compare the Chamber of Deputies of both countries, we can see that structure of both are very similar except that in Argentina, the power separation between Senate and Chamber of Deputies is much clear than Chile’s. Chile’s Senate is also popularly elected as Chamber of Deputies is, and it has 38 seats depending on the population, so it can be variable; in fact, about third-fourth of the Senators are popularly elected and one-fourth is appointed by the Supreme Court. “To become Senator in Chile, they have got certain criteria such as the person must be citizen, forty years old, must finish the secondary source, and a resident for three years in the region they represent” ( mongabay, (n.d.)) In Argentina’s Senate, ” there are 72 senators, 3 from each district, so the number of the senators is fixed, and popularly elected for a six year term.” (nyulawglobal, 2006, January) Therefore, the differences of these two countries’ Senate were that the number of the Senators in Chile is variable, but it is not in Argentina, and as I have mentioned above, the power separation between Senate and Chamber of Deputies are clear in Argentina’s political system- Senate and Chamber of Deputies have each clear task different to Chile’s. In Chile, Senate does not have clear separation power as most of the issues they have to handle go through the Congress as a whole. In these two countries, National Constitution is the most influential on the Legislation process. Taxing system, military, foreign affairs and other system which can affect the whole country are especially controlled by written constitution which I will be discussing later in this paper.
In the executive branch of both countries, the president is the head of the state and the head of the government, and the cabinet is appointed by the president, and the president is popularly elected for the four year term. It is very interesting that they do have very alike executive system, even the years of term for the president. And, two of these countries are all presidential (executive) dominant countries. “In Chile, the presidential initiatives to make the laws just only take around 205 days to complete all the legislation process and for the legislation, it takes around 487 days for the process” (Morgenstern & Nacif, 2002, p-87) So, it is obvious that president of the Chile can make law much faster than the Congress does, in other words, it mean that president is favored by the constitution. In Argentina also, ” in recent years, many scholars preferred to classify Argentina as a executive-dominated Delegated Democracy, and Congress lack any real ability to check the president” ( Haggard (Ed.), 2001, p-149) Therefore, we can see how the executive branch play a very important role in both countries’ political process. Many ministries including department of finance are also controlled by the president alone through the cabinet which mainly focuses on day to day process of the countries.
In Argentina, the executive branch is still fragile for not able to reduce the corruption among the executive branch only. As Maki wrote in his thesis named Decentralization and Political Participation, ” tax evasion is rampant, criminal policemen are common, social welfare such as education, health care are under the standard compare to income per capital” (Maki, 2006, p-91) These kinds of worse corruption are because of the weak policies of the executive branch and ineffectiveness of the government actions. Though some scholars said that Argentina is one of the democratic countries in Latin America, their executive branch is not unable to monitor those democratic actions. Likewise in Chile, there are many corruptions inside government, but the corruptions are not only in the executive branch but the executive branch and judicial branch together as there is not much power separation between the executive and judicial. ” the judges take the briberies in pre-trial detention in exchange for expediting the case, and those judges are much influenced by the executive branch (especially president) through the appointment process” ( Transparency International, 2007, p-188) Therefore, in both countries, the executive branch are very fragile from the democratic point of view though the way the corruption happen is different- corruption is directly for the executive branch’s fault in Argentina and the executive and judicial are in Chile.
After Legislation and Executive, the branch which is the most powerful branch (in power balance) in most democratic countries is Judicial. Whether the judicial branches in Chile and Argentina are most powerful or not will be discussed in this section. Generally, “in Chile, judiciary courts are divided into three levels- Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, and tribunal of first instance. The most powerful level Supreme Court has 21 judges, appointed by the President and ratified by the Senate. It has the power to control all judges from the two inferior levels” (nyulawglobal, November, 2005) So, literally, judges from the Supreme Court are the most powerful persons among all judges, but they are balanced by the executive and legislative branches. Argentina’s judicial structure is also much similar with Chile’s. The only differences are that the members of the Supreme Court of Justice are ministers, and the provinces are much autonomous which means the each province take the responsibility of correspondence in the Supreme Court.
Related to the case of Independence of Supreme Court, according to a survey of Skaar in a paper called Judicial independence and human rights policies in Argentina and Chile, “Chile and Argentina have much more independence after the Constitutional reform” (Skaar, 2001, pp-11,12) However, as I discussed about the corruptions of Chile’s judges above, judges are taking briberies from the people which means that they are not independent anymore. And one more issue is that those judges are appointed by the president. How much independent the judges will be if they are appointed by the executive branches which themselves are corrupted? As Argentina and Chile have politically similar structure (fragile and corrupt), it will be very difficult to say that they have independent Courts.
Generally, all Legislation, Executive, and Judicial are interdependent with the constitutions. Based on the constitution, the legislation, executive, and judicial are mainly structured. Written constitutions in Chile and Argentina also have many effects on these three power-balanced sectors. In comparison of the constitution of Chile and Argentina, as they are intended to provide democratic institutions and actions, they have got how citizens are free, guaranteed to basic rights, powers for the legislation and execution and judicial in common. But, Argentina’s constitution is much more like a constitution for the federal state because it has very clear separation between the federal government and the province. “The federal government provides for the expenditures of the Nation with the funds of the National treasury. Each province shall enact its own constitution under the republican” (argentina constitution, n.d.) So, according to the written constitution of Argentina, the federal government has its own power and conditions and limits what it can do, and the provinces have their own governing power which is guaranteed by the constitution. But, in Chile’s constitution “the state of Chile is unitary. Its territory is dived into regions. The law shall provide that administration thereof be functional and territorially decentralized.” (Constitution of Republic of Chile, 1980, 21st October) It is said that the state is unitary (not federal) and the administration provided by the law should be decentralized in the constitution; however, the constitution doesn’t have clear separation how the administration could be decentralized.
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In the stability of constitution, Chile’s constitution is much fragile compared to the Argentina constitution. It could be because Chile’s is struggling at the defensive situation- not to have another kind of Pinochet regime. “After Pinochet was defeated in 1988, the democratic position organized (centre and left), the political parties which support the military, and the government altogether constituted the social and political institutions that opposed to the Pinochet regime and its 1980 constitution” (Montes & Vial, 2005, p-13) As they are focusing on preventing of another Pinochet like regime, they lack of ability to control of the stability of the constitution. But, for Argentina, “the constitution first drafted in 1853 was improved through the step by step amendments- 1853 constitution and 1860 amendments enforce for the better civil and political rights, and 1957, 1994 amendments had a great emphasis on economic and social rights” ( Human Rights and Constitutional Rights, n.d.) So, Argentina’s constitution was much concreted with the amendments and led to the stability.
The main actors on the legislation, Executive, and Judicial which all are controlled by the national constitution are political parties. The government is also from the political parties, and the congress men are also members of the political parties. In Chile and Argentina, party politics is very common and the ideologies of the political parties shape the countries’ structure. If we compare the political parties of these two countries, we will see a lot of similar things such as having multiparty system where two main political parties influence. In Chile, “Political parties are Christian Democratic Party, The Party for Democracy, the Radical Party, the Socialist Party which of all are center-left, and Independent Democratic Union, the National Renewal (two center-right parties) stand as the main opposites” (nationsencyclopedia, n.d.) Though there are a lot of parties, the center-left parties become one coalition and the center right political parties become one side, so basically, we can say that two main sides influence the political process of Chile. For Argentina, “there are also many parties such as Justicialist Party, Union Civica Radical, Civic Coalition, the Republican Proposal, but, the Justicialist Party and Union Civica Radical are the two main political parties which are currently getting a lot of support- the Justicialist Party from labor support and the Union Civica Radical from middle-class support” (U.S. Department of State, September 16, 2010) Based on these informations, we can see that coalition is common in Chile, and the parties are very much ideology based, but for Argentina, parties stand single and they are based on civil or territory based (not ideology based) which means they are flexible for the people who support them.
We will also observe that political parties in Chile and Argentina played a very important role for the democratization process. In Chile, political parties were the main opposition to the military regime (Pinochet’ regime). Because of those political parties’ objection on the dictatorship, the motivation for the democratic government emerged in Chile. “The political parties’ officials who are expelled from the office by Pinochet got the valuable opportunity to contact with pobladores. Altogether political parties and those pobladores become the initial opposition for the military regime” (Maki, 2006, p-42) Likewise, in Argentina, the political parties became the main groups to have a broad representation in the country. Because of that broad representation of the different levels of people, the democracy was concreted in Argentina. “Traditionally, politics was influenced by Landowners, high clergy, merchants, and professionals representing the aristocracy. But in modern times, new parties are emerging to represent working class, small farmers and intellectuals” (nationsencyclopedia, n.d.) By representing all different classes, the democracy becomes much meaningful in Argentina. Therefore, political parties are the ones, in one way, who mainly participate democratic movements in both countries, Chile and Argentina.
In conclusion, Chile and Argentina has very similar political history, and their current political structures are also very alike. As I have discussed above, they have got the presidential systems and same rules for the presidential election. In the legislation case, Chile is very unitary centered with the provinces’ administration and the central government is not clearly power separated, and Argentina is much more federal with the separation of power. Although both countries have some kinds of corruption, it can be said that the whole political system of Argentina is much stable than Chile’s because Chile is very much focused on preventing another military regime, and for Argentina, it could develop the systems through the amendments for the problematic issues. The political parties in these two countries also played very important role in developing the democratic institutions and actions. Therefore, at last we can say that Chile and Argentina are going forward by amending the weakness of the political system, and they are on the way of developing countries which practices the democratic systems.
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