Deepening democracy in Chile: from social crisis to constitutional revolution?


19/01/2021 - 18:00 hrs

In 2019, an explosion of social protest brought Chile to a standstill. Protesters had many far-reaching demands, not least the establishment of a new constitution and greater social justice in health, education, and pensions. These demands, however, met only with repression from security forces, who showed scant respect for protesters’ human rights. Unrest continued well into 2020 and was only contained inadvertently by the country’s first COVID-19 lockdown.

But social pressure has proved remarkably successful. In the national plebiscite of October 2020, Chileans voted overwhelmingly in favour of setting up a constituent assembly, yet many questions remain about the country’s past and future. What factors lay behind the protests? Will a new consitution manage to satisfy social and political demands for change? Will it be able to lay the foundations for a fairer and more equitable society? This panel will debate these and other issues crucial to the future of Chile and the wider region.


Emmanuelle Barozet is a sociologist, Full Professor at the University of Chile and Principal Researcher of the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES).

Her research interests focus in studies of social stratification, especially in the middle classes, as well as informal institutions. She participates in several research projects, including ¿”Malas prácticas” o “aceitar la máquina”? Las instituciones informales en tiempos de cambios políticos y su impacto en la democracia chilena (2016-2019).

Emmanuelle holds a master in History and Civilization and a PhD in Sociology by the Ecóle des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de Paris, with a specialization in Latin America. She did a post-doctorate in Chile and Bolivia for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Javier Couso is Professor of Constitutional Law at the Diego Portales University (Chile), and holds the Chair in Global Trends in Constitutionalismat Utrecht University (The Netherlands).

He specializes in Comparative Constitutional Law, with an emphasis on Latin American constitutionalism, constituent processes, and the judicialization of politics. He is currently Associate Member of the ‘International Academy of Comparative Law’, after having served as a member of the Board of the ‘Law and Society Association’, and at the Executive Committee of the ‘International Association of Constitutional Law’.

In the period 2014-2015, he served as a consultant to the United Nations in Yemen’s constituent process, followed by his role as constitutional adviser to Michelle Bachelet’s government in Chile (2015-2018). A regular contributor to International IDEA’s Constitution Building Program, he colaborated with the latter in Myanmar (2019).

Oscar Landerretche is professor of economics at the University of Chile. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Codelco (2014-2018), Director of the School of Economics and Business of the University of Chile (2012-2014) and was the founding director of the Masters in Public Policy of the University of Chile (2004-2010) which he is directing again since late 2020.

He was the executive secretary for the program of the Bachelet 2006 presidential campaign and also executive secretary of the Presidential Advisory Council for Work and Equality between 2007-2008, he was also Chief Economist of the Frei 2010 presidential campaign.

As a result of the reforms in economic teaching he implemented as head of the School of Economics and Business he ended up as one of the founding members of the CORE Econ project, member of its first steering committee and now of its board of trustees.

Professor Landerretche was trained as an economist at the University of Chile and holds a PhD in economics from MIT.