PR Political Rights 38 40
CL Civil Liberties 56 60
Last Year's Score & Status
94 100 Free
Global freedom statuses are calculated on a weighted scale. See the methodology.

header1 Overview

Chile is a stable democracy that has experienced a significant expansion of political rights and civil liberties since the return of civilian rule in 1990. Ongoing concerns include corruption and unrest linked to land disputes with Indigenous Mapuche people.

header2 Key Developments in 2022

  • The Constitutional Convention—elected to draft a new constitution in 2021—published its final proposal in July. In September, 62 percent of voters rejected the progressive constitution proposed by the convention in a national plebiscite.
  • A state of emergency imposed in parts of southern Chile in 2021 due to violent conflict between government forces and Indigenous Mapuche activists was extended until March. Newly inaugurated president Gabriel Boric imposed a new state of emergency in the same areas in May due to an increase in conflict-related violence; the state of emergency remained in place through year’s end.

PR Political Rights

A Electoral Process

A1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 4.004 4.004

Presidential elections in Chile are free and fair. The president is directly elected to a four-year term. Consecutive terms are not permitted. In December 2021, Chileans elected Gabriel Boric to the presidency. Boric, a leftist member of Congress, won the second round of the election with 55.8 percent of the vote, becoming the youngest elected president in Chilean history at age 35. He was sworn into office in March 2022.

A2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 4.004 4.004

The upper house, the Senate, has 50 seats, and the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, has 155 seats; all members are directly elected. Senators serve eight-year terms, with half up for election every four years, and members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected to four-year terms.

In November 2021, Chileans elected 27 of 50 senators and all 155 members of the Chamber of Deputies. No coalition won a majority of seats, and both chambers remain politically diverse.

A3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 4.004 4.004

Chile’s electoral framework is robust and generally well implemented.

A constitutional reform process was triggered by an October 2020 national plebiscite, organized in response to large-scale protests held the previous year. In May 2021, the 155-member Constitutional Convention was elected to draft a new constitution; the body published its final proposal in July 2022. In September, 62 percent of voters rejected the progressive proposed constitution in a national plebiscite. The results of the vote were widely accepted as legitimate.

In December, lawmakers announced that they had reached a multiparty agreement to begin work on drafting a new constitution. The agreement provides for a commission of 24 experts, appointed by Congress, to draft the preliminary text of a new constitution, which will then go to a new, 50-member Constitutional Council—made up of 25 men and 25 women who will be directly elected in mid-2023—to undergo further revision. The agreement remained awaiting congressional approval at year’s end. A national plebiscite on adopting the new draft constitution is scheduled to be held in late 2023.

B Political Pluralism and Participation

B1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings? 4.004 4.004

Chile has a multiparty political system in which parties operate freely. As of 2022, Congress includes representatives from 19 political parties, as well as several independent members.

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections? 4.004 4.004

Power alternation between parties occurs regularly, both in Congress and for the presidency.

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means? 4.004 4.004

People are generally free to exercise their political choices without undue influence from actors that are not democratically accountable. In recent years, however, far-right organizations such as Team Patriota and the Social Patriot Movement (MSP) have sought to influence Chilean politics, reportedly including by trying to exert pressure on conservative politicians.

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities? 3.003 4.004

The Constitutional Convention elected in May 2021 featured gender parity among its 155 members, and 17 seats were reserved for members of Indigenous communities. The Constitutional Council set to be elected in 2023 will also feature gender parity among its 50 members, but does not have a set number of seats reserved for Indigenous representatives.

Women are represented in government, and the electoral system includes a quota for women in the legislature. However, women have reported difficulty gaining influence in intraparty debates. President Boric has made gender parity a core focus of his administration; his first cabinet, announced in January 2022, was made up of 14 women and 10 men. Following changes made within the government in September, Boric’s cabinet comprised 15 women and 9 men.

The interests of the Mapuche minority, which represents about 9 percent of the population, are present in political life, with Mapuche activists regularly making their voices heard in street demonstrations. However, this activism has yet to translate into significant legislative power.

Members of the LGBT+ community are organized in civil society organizations but few are elected to political positions.

C Functioning of Government

C1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government? 4.004 4.004

While lobbying and interest groups exist and work to shape policy, there is little significant intervention by actors who are not democratically accountable in policymaking processes.

C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective? 3.003 4.004

Anticorruption laws are generally enforced, though high-level corruption scandals crop up with some regularity. In March 2022, Ricardo Martínez, then commander in chief of the army, resigned one day before testifying in the so-called Milicogate case, a series of corruption scandals that involved military officers using fake procurement deals to embezzle public funds between 2010 and 2019. In April 2022, Martínez was placed under preventive arrest in relation to the Milicogate investigation; he was indicted on eight fraud charges, but was granted bail soon after his arrest. The military court revoked the indictment in August, and the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the military court’s action later that month.

C3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government operate with openness and transparency? 4.004 4.004

The government operates with relative transparency. In 2009, the Transparency and Access to Public Information Law came into force; it increased public access to information and created a Council on Transparency. Agencies have generally been responsive to information requests.

In 2019, the government replaced the decades-old Copper Law, which was viewed as a major step toward improving transparency in the wake of a series of corruption scandals involving the armed forces. Earlier legislation stipulated that 10 percent of the state-run copper giant Codelco’s export sales be channeled to the armed forces without oversight.

CL Civil Liberties

D Freedom of Expression and Belief

D1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there free and independent media? 4.004 4.004

Guarantees of free speech are generally respected, though some laws barring defamation of state institutions remain on the books. Media ownership is highly concentrated.

Several journalists reported facing harassment and assault, including by the police, during 2022. In May, three journalists were injured while covering a protest in Santiago, including Francisca Sandoval, who was shot by gunmen who opened fire on the demonstration. Sandoval later died from her injuries, becoming the first journalist to be killed in the line of duty since the Pinochet era.

D2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 4.004 4.004

The constitution provides for religious freedom, and the government generally upholds this right in practice.

D3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 4.004 4.004

Academic freedom is generally unrestricted in Chile.

D4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution? 4.004 4.004

Chileans enjoy open and free private discussion.

E Associational and Organizational Rights

E1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom of assembly? 4.004 4.004

The right to assemble peacefully has traditionally been respected. However, peaceful protest activity that arose in 2019, when people took to the streets to demonstrate against the government and against societal inequality, was severely disrupted by a variety of factors including people who took advantage of the protest movement’s cover to engage in looting, arson, and vandalism; and by widespread police violence and a restrictive state of emergency that was imposed in response to the unrest.

Several protests were held during 2022, including a number of demonstrations against rising inflation and persistent inequality. Though some demonstrations featured violence from both protesters and law enforcement, both civilian violence and police repression have decreased significantly since 2019.

E2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work? 4.004 4.004

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) form and operate without interference.

E3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations? 4.004 4.004

There are strong laws protecting worker and union rights, but some limited antiunion practices by private sector employers continue to be reported.

F Rule of Law

F1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there an independent judiciary? 4.004 4.004

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the courts are generally free from political interference.

F2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters? 4.004 4.004

The right to legal counsel is constitutionally guaranteed and due process generally prevails in civil and criminal matters. However, indigent defendants do not always receive effective legal representation.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have criticized the government’s use of antiterrorism laws, which do not guarantee due process, to prosecute acts of violence by Mapuche activists.

F3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies? 2.002 4.004

While the government has developed mechanisms to investigate and punish police abuses, excessive force and human rights abuses committed by the carabineros (the national police) still occur, and such abuses intensified during the social upheaval that started in 2019. Protests, vandalism, and police use of excessive force occurred sporadically throughout 2022, but did not reach the intensity of the unrest seen in 2019.

The government’s National Institute for Human Rights (INDH), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International have accused the carabineros and the military of perpetrating human rights violations during the 2019 protests, including excessive use of force against protesters, as well as torture and sexual abuse of people held in detention. The Boric administration established a police reform commission and a reform advisory unit in August 2022.

Conflict between Indigenous Mapuche people and the Chilean state continued throughout 2022. The unrest reportedly featured growing violence by some Mapuche activists, including the use of arson attacks against landowners and forestry workers. In October 2021, then president Sebastián Piñera declared a state of emergency in the Araucanía and Biobío regions in response to violent clashes between security forces and Mapuche activists. The state of emergency was extended several times until President Boric took office in March 2022. In response to increasing violence and road blockades, President Boric imposed a new state of emergency in the same areas in May; the new state of emergency, which is reportedly more limited in scope than that under Piñera, remained in place through year’s end.

Though Chile has one of the lowest rates of violent crime in Latin America, the country recorded an increased level of violent crime during 2022. According to police statistics, the homicide rate grew by more than 32 percent between 2021 and 2022. Violent crime related to drug trafficking is also a concern, particularly in the Tarapacá region.

F4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population? 3.003 4.004

While Indigenous people still experience societal discrimination and police brutality, their poverty levels have declined somewhat, aided by government scholarships, land transfers, and social spending.

LGBT+ people continue to face societal bias, despite a 2012 antidiscrimination law that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2018, the president signed a gender-identity law allowing for gender identity to be changed on the civil registry.

In practice, elites benefit from systematic favorable legal treatment.

G Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights

G1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education? 4.004 4.004

The constitution protects the freedom of movement, and the government respects this right in practice. During 2022, freedom of movement was at times impacted by the ongoing conflict between the Mapuche people and the government in parts of southern Chile. Among other things, the continuing conflict saw Mapuche activists put up roadblocks and barricade highways during the year; a state of emergency imposed in May and extended through year’s end allowed for the military to guard roads and transit routes in the conflict zone. In November, President Boric announced the creation of a peace and reconciliation commission intended to resolve the conflict, in part by returning some ancestral land to Indigenous communities.

G2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors? 4.004 4.004

Individuals generally have the right to own property and establish and operate private businesses, and do so without interference from the government or other actors. However, Mapuche activists continue to demand greater territorial rights to land, ancestral waters, and natural resources.

G3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance? 4.004 4.004

The government generally does not restrict personal social freedoms.

Violence against children and women remains a problem. A law against femicide went into force in 2010. The government reported 43 femicides and 180 attempted femicides in 2022.

In 2017, legislation that decriminalized abortion in the events of rape, an inviable fetus, or danger to the life of the woman took effect.

In 2021, Congress approved same-sex marriage by an overwhelming majority; the law came into effect in March 2022. Previously, a 2015 law recognized civil unions for same-sex couples.

G4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation? 3.003 4.004

While compulsory labor is illegal, forced labor, particularly among foreign citizens, continues to occur in the agriculture, mining, and domestic service sectors.

Although there have been improvements in fighting child labor, minors still suffer commercial sexual exploitation and work unprotected in the agricultural sector. There is limited public information about forced child labor.

On Chile

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  • Global Freedom Score

    94 100 free