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Politics

“Pandora’s Box” for the Chilean President

Chile will hold presidential election on November 21, the current Chilean leader is not among the candidates for the highest government post. In the South American country, opposition lawmakers initiated on October 13 impeachment proceedings against President Sebastián Piñera in connection with a high-profile investigation into the “Pandora Dossier”. What’s happening in Chile today? How is the country preparing for the upcoming electoral process?  

The Chile’s opposition parties on October 13 initiated a constitutional impeachment process against the President Sebastián Piñera (Spanish – Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique) after the publication of documents from the so-called “Pandora Dossier”. On October 3, a number of international media outlets, members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), funded, in particular, by one of the George Soros foundations, published the “Pandora Dossier” on October 3 about the alleged involvement of a number of world leaders to offshore schemes. It features more than 35 current and former politicians, as well as 400 officials from about 100 states. Investigation by the Consortium of journalists named the United States as the largest tax haven.  

The “Pandora Papers” – a global leak of documents from which it became known about secret assets, secret agreements and hidden incomes of the most powerful and wealthy people in the world. The “Pandora Dossier” contains information about the assets and secret agreements of 130 of the richest people in the world, including more than 30 top politicians. The Dossier features reports from more than 600 journalists from 117 countries and data from more than 11.9 million files.  

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The Chile’s opposition parties on October 13 initiated a constitutional impeachment process against the President Sebastián after the publication of documents from the so-called “Pandora Dossier”.    

The “Pandora Papers” investigation has also sparked heated debate in Chile ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in late November. The Chilean newspaper “Siper”, part of the International Consortium of Journalists, published an article based on these documents, which states that in December 2010, during Piñera’s first presidential term, his family sold their stake in the Dominga mine for US $ 152 million. Part of the deal took place in the British Virgin Islands. According to the publication, the payment was divided into three parts, the payment of the last of which depended on whether the government declared the zone where the mine is located as a nature reserve. Sebastián Piñera, in response to the accusations, said that the circumstances of the transaction had already been investigated, and the court did not find corpus delicti. The Latin American prosecutor’s office declared it has launched an investigation into possible allegations of corruption, bribery, and tax violations related to the sale.  

Following the publication of the “Pandora Dossier” on October 13, opposition parties initiated a constitutional process to impeach Piñera. The document was signed by 15 parliamentarians from various political associations. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of the process, since the constitutional charge should be given the green light by the Chamber of Deputies. The lower house of the Chilean National Congress is expected to consider it in early November, then the Senate will deal with the issue.  

Sebastián Piñera denies his involvement in the scheme specified in the “Pandora’s Dossier”. The official statement on this charge was published by the press service of the Chilean leader’s administration. “The mentioned events concerning the purchase of the Dominga mine have already been thoroughly investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office and the courts in 2017, and the Prosecutor’s Office recommended that the case be closed due to lack of corpus delicti, compliance with the law and non-participation of the President Sebastián Piñera in the said operation,” the statement declared.  

Turning again to the electoral process, it is important to note that Piñera is not among the candidates for the highest state office. On July 18, the electoral process kicked off, as a result of which the Chileans chose two presidential candidates out of six politicians nominated by two party alliances. On November 21, the citizens of the Latin American country will elect the head of state for the period 2022–2026, as well as cast their votes for deputies, senators and members of regional councils at the same time. In the event of a second round of elections, it will take place on December 19, 2021.  

According to the results of the July electoral process, two candidates were identified who on November 21 will become the main heroes of the struggle for the presidency: Gabriel Boric Font from the left coalition “I Approve Dignity” (Spanish – Apruebo Dignidad) and Sebastián Sichel (Spanish – Sebastián Iglesias Sichel Ramírez) from the right platform “Chile, go!” (Spanish – Chile Vamos).  

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The winners of the electoral process on July 18, 2021: Gabriel Boric Font from the left coalition “I Approve Dignity” and Sebastian Sichel from the right platform “Chile, go”.  

Gabriel Boric Font became the youngest candidate in the internal party primaries. Gabriel Boric, 35-year-old, is one of the foremost political figures in Chile. Boric is a lawyer and social scientist by training, politician and MP from the Magallanes region and Chilean Antarctica. The left-wing candidate promises to restore the economy and health care. He intends to ensure democratic and equitable participation of employees in the management structures of companies. In the economy, Boric promises to carry out tax reform to stimulate the manufacturing sector.

Sebastián Sichel is a 44-year-old Chilean politician and lawyer who served as head of the State Bank from June to December 2020. Previously, he served as Minister of Social Development and Family. The candidate of the right-wing “Chile, go!” states that if he wins, he will devote the first 100 days of his presidency to reducing bureaucracy, promoting free enterprise and strengthening social safety nets. Sichel promises to improve the personal system of pension savings by providing an opportunity to choose the insured.

In the months ahead, the Chileans face a range of structural challenges. First of all, we are talking about the adoption of the Constitution. The new Chilean leadership will have to approve the main constituent document of the country, which is already planned in the form of a referendum for the first half of 2022. Secondly, the presidential elections, which will be held on November 21, will not only become the defining chord of the country’s new political course, but will also pave the way for transformations in defining Chilean democracy under the country’s new fundamental law.

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