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At this point, it is clear that Sebastian Piñera He will not leave the Palacio de la Moneda through the main door. The last months that remain for his government – already complicated by the lags of the social outbreak, the pandemic, a deep institutional crisis and recent electoral failures – will be shaken by a historic impeachment request against him, the second that the president of Chile faces in its management.

Deputies from all opposition parties presented this Wednesday a constitutional indictment to remove the right-wing president for the controversial sale of a mining megaproject in a tax haven revealed in the Pandora Papers. Specifically, The president was accused of having lacked the principle of “probity” and “seriously compromising the honor of the Nation.”

READ ALSO: The Chilean opposition presents a motion of censure to remove Piñera

The initiative seeks to clarify the role of the president in the sale to a businessman friend of the Dominga mining and port project, signed in the British Virgin Islands in December 2010, nine months after starting his second presidential term (2010-2014).

This accusation comes at a very complex time to Pinera, who was already in trouble for this case“, he says Trade Paulina Astroza, Chilean lawyer and professor of International Law at the University of Concepción, who emphasizes that The accusation to remove the president joins the investigation opened last week by the Chilean Prosecutor’s Office for bribery and tax crimes in the same financial operation.

Although the process that seeks the removal of Pinera has just started in the Chamber of Deputies, Astroza believes the prosecution has a good chance of moving forward.

A banner hangs on a fence in front of the government house that reads '' We demand the resignation of Piñera '' during a demonstration calling for the annulment of a presidential veto on a bill that would improve the working conditions of teachers Chileans, and to request the resignation of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.  The protest was held this Wednesday.  (Photo: Reuters)
A banner hangs on a fence in front of the government house that reads ” We demand the resignation of Piñera ” during a demonstration calling for the annulment of a presidential veto on a bill that would improve the working conditions of teachers Chileans, and to request the resignation of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. The protest was held this Wednesday. (Photo: Reuters)

An evaluation commission made up of 5 of the 155 deputies, which was already elected this Wednesday, will draw up a report on the events and issue a non-binding resolution. For the mechanism to prosper, an absolute majority is required in the Chamber of Deputies, controlled by the opposition.

Javier Sajuria, Chilean academic and professor of Political Science at Queen Mary University of London and director of the Espacio Público foundation, explains that, unlike the first constitutional accusation against Pinera -where he was indicted for his responsibility in human rights violations after the social outbreak of October 2019-, this time the decision of the opposition in the Chamber of Deputies is clear.

The entire opposition has presented this accusation in a fairly united way, so it is unlikely that this accusation will fall in the Chamber of Deputies. With this, the president is officially accused before the Senate”, Signals to this newspaper.

With the green light of the Chamber of Deputies, the process will go to the Senate, who acts as judge and where two-thirds of the votes are needed to remove the president.

Piñera ends his government very weakened.  (Photo: Reuters)
Piñera ends his government very weakened. (Photo: Reuters)

The electoral factor

Due to the conformation of the Senate, for the removal of the president to be approved it would be necessary to have the votes of at least four senators of the ruling party. “The only way this will prosper to the point where Sebastian Piñera have to leave power is that their own allies end up abandoned and that is quite unlikely, although not impossible “, dice Sajuria.

When evaluating the possible scenarios in the Senate, the experts point to the weight that the current electoral period will have in the process. Less than two months before the presidential elections in Chile strategies could go in opposite directions if personal or collective success is privileged. The recent accusation of alleged irregular financing of his campaign to the candidate of the right, Sebastian Sichel, which further weakens the right, could also play a role.

As things are today, many of the faces of the ruling party are criticizing Pinera, some of whom want reelection as senators. Therefore, if it is perceived that Pinera It may not continue in power and that the candidate of the right is very touched and that the right is not going to win, that opens a space for some pro-government senators, seeking to secure their position in Parliament, are evaluating voting in favor of this accusation against the president”, Astroza considers.

For her part, Sajuria points out that, although Sebastian Piñera he has been losing support within his sector and that could work against him, his fall would also mean the fall of the entire government, which would also seriously affect his sector in the elections.

Sebastian Pinera, president of chileno.  (Photo: AFP)
Sebastian Pinera, president of chileno. (Photo: AFP)

Beyond all the anger that may exist in certain sectors of the right towards PineraI believe that more strategic factors may prevail regarding how much damage an accusation that ends with the removal of the president is going to do to the sector.”, It indicates.

“Final strike”

Analysts agree that the Sebastian Piñera it is an absolutely weakened government, to which the constitutional prosecution gives the final blow.

This is the closure of a very bad government, which has not had it easy either because it was touched by the social outbreak, the pandemic, the increase in violence in Araucanía, the defeat of the right in the elections of the conventional constituents, the failure of the ruling party in the gubernatorial elections, the ruling party lost many mayors and councils. His political sector has done very badly and some attribute it to the poor performance of the government”Says Astroza.

Add that Piñera’s own supporters claim that he has done it wrong. “The polls are very bad for him, Piñera reached 6% approval, the latest polls give him 14% or 15%, which is still very low. Piñera is very weak politically “, he points out.

Sajuria adds that, although the president regained some leadership during the pandemic and that gave him a kind of second wind, “at least since the plebiscite of October 2020 that of Pinera it has been a kind of zombie government, where they have only administered the few spaces of power that remain before a Congress that is very emboldened ”.

It is the worst nightmare of presidentialism. I think The impeachment is a final stone, a final blow. I don’t think there is a before and after in the sense that, although the accusation is for facts that were not known, at the end of the day it is not something that causes surprise to people. This simply reinforces the notion that his rule in practice ended long ago and that he just finds himself floating in gray space until the elections are due.”, He concludes.

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