Regional State: coordination with the central level and gradual implementation alert experts

The slogan that “Santiago is not Chile” has been installed strongly over the years. Such has been their support, that the draft of the new Constitution establishes that “Chile is a Regional State”, a transversal axis to the articles, according to the constitutionalists meeting this Monday in Mexico City.

Marisol Peña, research professor at the Center for Constitutional Justice at Universidad Del Desarrollo; Tomás Jordán, professor of constitutional law at the Alberto Hurtado University and coordinator of the Nueva Constitución Observatory; Claudia Sarmiento, professor of constitutional law at the Alberto Hurtado University; and José Francisco García, professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University, delved into the scope of six topics already present in the text under construction. The exercise sought to answer part of the doubts that are most frequently repeated today by citizens.

The academics explain that what took place in the Constitutional Convention was a discussion between those who preferred a unitary State and those who favored a federal one, but in the end an intermediate model was chosen.

Although they recognize positive aspects, they warn that conflicts of competence could arise between the central and regional authorities, for example, in coordination, and also between the regions themselves, widely disparate -in resources, population and territory- among themselves.

Another alert is about the gradual implementation of the regional State, and they call for it to be gradual. In fact, they remember that the reductions to a regulation will require a collective debate, and they are the next challenge.

Main proposals
of the eraser

  • The Chamber of the Regions is a deliberative, joint and multinational body of regional representation in charge of concurring in the formation of regional agreement laws and exercising the other powers entrusted by this Constitution. Its members will be called regional representatives.
  • The State is organized territorially in autonomous regions.
  • Of the Autonomy of the territorial entities. The autonomous regions, autonomous communes and indigenous territorial autonomies are endowed with political autonomy.
  • Of the Autonomous Regions. The Autonomous Regions are political and territorial entities endowed with legal personality under public law and their own assets that enjoy autonomy for the development of regional interests.
  • From the Regional Government. The Regional Government is the executive body of the Autonomous Region. A Governor or Regional Governor will direct the Regional Government.
  • of the Regional Assembly. The Regional Assembly is the collegiate body of regional representation.
  • Of the Regional Social Council. The Regional Social Council is in charge of promoting popular participation in regional public affairs of a participatory and consultative nature.
  • of the Autonomous Community. The Autonomous Commune is the base territorial entity of the regional State.
  • Of the Indigenous Territorial Autonomies. The Indigenous Territorial Autonomies are territorial entities endowed with legal personality under public law and their own patrimony, where the indigenous peoples and nations exercise rights of autonomy, in coordination with the other territorial entities that make up the Regional State in accordance with the Constitution and the law. It is the duty of the State to recognize, promote and guarantee the Indigenous Territorial Autonomies, for the fulfillment of their own purposes.

Thomas Jordan:
It is a mandatory coordination relationship.

For Jordán, the decision of the Convention to advance in regional and territorial autonomy, responds to a latent demand on the part of the regions, but that at the central level never prospered. “There was an interest in distributing power, but there was no real political will,” he says.
All in all, for him, what was approved by the Convention is based on a “very pointed” model, but in which the centralized State and the regional states will have a “mandatory coordination” relationship. Thus, under his perspective, the general framework of national legislation will be determined by the central State, but the regions will be able to enact laws to adapt national legislation, adjusting them to their territories. “It is a key change in the form of distribution of power. It seems to me that it is a different model, it is not a daring model, not at all”, he maintains, adding that the great point that remains to be seen is the coordination between the central level and the regions regarding their public policy.

Claudia Sarmiento:
tension between central government and regions

On this issue, for Sarmiento there is a tension between various aspects: how these autonomous entities are coordinated, how it is verified that they are fiscally sustainable and how they will respect other general principles of the State, including plurinationality, parity and others.
For her, here there will be a tension in coordination with the central level, which can even be replicated between regions, due, for example, to budget decisions. “If I think about the number of people who live in Santiago versus the number of people who live in Magallanes, and I have to distribute resources, but I assign the same amount of resources to the regions, we are going to have difficulties,” she exemplifies.
Thus, in concrete terms, for Sarmiento it is key to clarify, later with legislation, the functions and powers that the regions will have with respect to what the central government instructs.

Marisol Pena:
room for inequality problems
and competition between regions

The fact that the regions will have political autonomy, and that therefore they will govern themselves and choose their own authorities, for Marisol Peña could mean that there is indeed competition between the regions.
Thus, the expert warns that applying a model of intense and equal autonomy in a territory that has a very disparate makeup, can generate not only competition between the regions, but also problems of inequality, for example, in the application of taxes, the their proportionality, etc. “If I find myself living in the Fourth Region, in Copiapó, and it turns out that contribution levels are being applied in the Fifth Region, both authorized by law, totally different, that will probably mean a personal and family decision to move my home. and my venture, eventually, to the regions that offer the best advantages from this point of view”, graphed the expert.

Jose Francisco Garcia:
gradualism and pilot plan in two regions

The entry into force of the autonomy of the regional states must be gradual due to the high complexity that this process entails. That is the main reflection of José Francisco García.
“I think this is by far the most technically complicated thing about the Constitution,” he says.
Thus, in his opinion, this graduality should be, at least, six years, and should start with two pilot regions. “Not even the Spanish, the Italians and the French feel that they themselves have managed to implement this model,” he states to illustrate its complexity.
For García, this issue is the strongest institutional change that the Constitutional Convention has promoted, “much more than that of the political system,” he says, emphasizing that this will require a lot of gradualism. For him, this matter requires a stronger technical perspective, to clarify the limits.

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