Based on its 1980 Constitution, promulgated under the regime headed by Augusto Pinochet, Chile is an unitary state and one of the most centralized countries in the region. In December 2023, Chile held a referendum on a new Constitution, which would have established a so-called “Regional State” composed of autonomous regions, autonomous communes, indigenous territorial autonomies and special territories. These territorial entities would all have legal personality and competences to govern themselves, with political, administrative, and financial autonomy, as part of the single and indivisible territory of Chile. While this territorial and institutional reorganization would have transformed Chile from one of the most centralized countries in the OECD into a deeply decentralized system, the proposed constitution was rejected in a national plebiscite. The truncation of the constitutional debate in 2023 has left Chile’s subnational governance structure–and especially the role and nature of the regions–in a limbo, as the 1980 constitution continues to shape Chile’s rather centralized subnational governance structure, albeit with various amendments. Municipalities are basically executors of national policies in concurrent functional areas (e.g., education and health), with some autonomy over staffing decisions, while their autonomy is larger in urban planning, development, and services.

Subnational governance structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessments

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Chile 2023 (Excel)

Additional resources

Country sheet: Chile. Panorama de las relaciones fiscales entre niveles de gobierno de países de América Latina y el Caribe. 2022.

Chile Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

Local government country profile: Chile (UN Women)

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Last updated: April 19, 2024