Executive Branch

Chile has a presidential system of government. The executive authority is vested in the President, who acts as Head of State and Government. He or she symbolizes and represents the permanent interests of the country.

The President is elected to a four-year term in a direct election and must receive a majority of the votes cast. If more than two candidates run for the office of president, and none receives a majority of the votes (50 percent plus one), a run-off election is held between the two who received the largest pluralities. The President cannot be re-elected to a consecutive second term.

According to the Constitution, the authority of the President extends to everything that involves the conservation of internal public order and the external security of the Republic, in agreement with the Constitution and the laws.

The Executive has the power to introduce bills and promulgate laws; to call plebiscites; to submit constitutional amendments; to appoint Cabinet members, Ambassadors and regional authorities (no Senate approval is required); the Comptroller General of the Republic (with the consent of the Senate); the Supreme and Appellate court judges (from slates submitted by the Supreme Court); and to appoint and remove the Commanders in Chiefs of the Armed Forces. In addition, the President conducts international relations and assumes the position of Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces during a war.

Each May 21st, in front of the National Congress, the President must give the country an account of the administrative and political situation of the Nation.

President Michelle Bachelet was elected on January 15, 2006, in a second round, with 53,49 percent of the vote, and her term will continue until March 11, 2010.

Michelle Bachelet is the fourth President from the Concertación coalition. The Concertación is made up of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), the Party for Democracy (PPD), the Socialist Party (PS) and the Radical Social Democratic Party (PRSD).

La Moneda Palace

The seat of the Executive Branch is La Moneda Palace. Inaugurated in 1805, it is one of the most notable buildings constructed by the Spanish crown in its American colonies. It was designed by the Italian architect Joaquín Toesca, and construction began in 1784.

La Moneda houses the offices of the President and three Cabinet ministers: Interior, Presidency and Government Affairs.

It owes its name to the fact that it originally housed a mint (moneda means coin).

Former President Ricardo Lagos decided to open La Moneda to the public. People of all ages can cross the Palace and walk through the courtyards.

It has become a custom to throw coins into the fountain of the Patio of the Orange Trees. The coins are collected periodically and used for charitable purposes.