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chile-political-mapPopulation: 17,464,814

HDI ranking: 40/187

HDI score: 0.819

The history of military rule in Chile contributed to its decentralization process, as several responsibilities were transferred to the municipalities in the 1980s. Their recent history of democracy began in 1992 when the country held its first democratic elections for local leadership (UCLG, 2007).

Local governance at a glance

  • The country is divided into 15 regions, each led by an executive officer appointed by the regional council (UCLG, 2010).
  • The 345 municipalities are lead by popularly elected mayors and councilors (UCLG, 2010).
  • The Ministry of the Interior maintains responsibility for local authorities (UCLG, 2010).
  • Chile does not have legislated local gender quotas (Quota Project, 2014).

Civil society actors include 

  • Action for the Earth promotes citizen participation and transparency for environmental and developmental issues affecting Chile (Action for the Earth, 2014).
  • Corporacion Proyectamérica is a center for dialogue and information exchange within civil society (Poderopedia, 2013).

Capacity building institutions

Fiscal control

  • In past years, the federal government transferred 13.2% of total revenue to the municipal governments (UCLG, 2007).
  • Local government expenditures in Chile are 12.8% of total government expenditure, or 2.4% of GDP (UCLG, 2007).
  • The local governments are allocated urban property, alcohol, and car registration taxes, as well as public utility, fines, and permit fees. They are also allowed to set tax rates and change tax bases in accordance to legal limitations (UCLG, 2010).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • The educational decentralization program of the 1980s shifted control of public schools to the hands of private institutions. This strengthened the quality of education as schools competed for students and families became more invested in the schools (World Bank, 2004).
  • In 2005, the Chilean Association of Municipalities initiated a municipal reform to broaden the scope of governance for municipal administrators and promote collaboration between municipal governments. This proposed an increase in spending on local governments to 30% of the total national revenue (UCLG, 2007).

Challenges for participatory local governance 

  • Chilean municipalities are limited by dependence on the federal government. There are limited funds for municipalities, and local governments do not have the resources to successfully complete the jobs set before them (UCLG, 2007).
  • The UNDP’s assessment of their work in Chile from 2001 to ­2009 states that the goal to “advance decentralization” has yet to be significantly realized (UNDP, 2010).

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources:

Action for the Earth, 2014:

Chilean Association of Muncipalities (AChM), 2013:

Poderopedia, 2012:

Quota Project, 2014: “Chile.”

Secretariat for Regional and Administrative Development:

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2007: “Country Profile: Republic of Chile.”

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2010: “Local Government Finance: The Challenges of the 21st Century.”

United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2010: “Executive Summary.”

World Bank, 2004: “Education Decentralization and Accountability Relationships in Latin America.”