To speak of a ruler’s political responsibility is to refer to the control of the exercise of power he displays, i.e. whether the power he wields can be absolute or, on the contrary, subject to the principle and rules of sovereignty. limit.
In a democracy, the exercise of power presupposes fundamental counterweights such as respect for the Constitution and laws, institutional separation of powers, and civil liberties that allow society to fully develop.
In any modern democracy, rulers must be accountable to citizens for the exercise of their power functions, and society has an obligation to hold them accountable for cases of corruption, abuse of power, or violation of human rights, and to make their responsibility effective for their actions or omissions. Chile, which violates these principles, is no exception.
The assets protected are many, but the important ones are at least three: honesty, transparency and trust, all fundamental principles for the cohesion and stability of a democratic society.
Therefore, the controversy arising from the disclosure of a possible embezzlement involving the direct or indirect involvement of President Sebastián Piñera around the Dominga mine-port project in the Coquimbo Region cannot remain unanswered in a double sense. First, the National Congress will decide what is the President’s political responsibility in the execution of his office; and then, if the data so require, a corresponding sentencing decision to the Courts of Justice. In a formal democracy, both procedures are carried out by separate series as they correspond to different domains: one to Political Law, the other to Criminal Law.
The fulfillment of the responsibilities of the rulers is the result of centuries of development in the constitutional history of the West, not only to enable democracy but also to prevent abuse in its functioning and excessive and arbitrary concentration of power.
Specifically, political responsibility is the result of judgment regarding the correct or improper use of an act of authority by a body or representative, in accordance with its powers and in the public interest. It is neither more nor less than a political-legal value judgment in the application of the position, but it does not rule on criminal liability corresponding to Criminal Law. And strictly speaking, they are not incompatible.
The international criterion for judging and understanding the actions of rulers as corrupt is that they have four basic characters. First, they correspond to individuals or groups holding public office; secondly, that it implies the exercise of public authority and with a certain margin of free decision; thirdly, the subject has a personal interest, directly or indirectly, in the committing or negligence of the act, knowing that this interest overlaps; and fourth, that the official is aware that his actions or omissions are or may be considered illegal or improper, that is, directly contrary to the interests of citizens.
Keeping in mind the current text of the Political Constitution designed for an autocrat, it will be complicated to decide on these four points. However, Article 8 states:The performance of public duties obliges their owners to strictly comply. to the principle of truth in all your performances”. And he adds: “The procedures and decisions of state organs, their basis and the procedures they use are public.”. So, accuracy and transparency these are the orientation values of the whole system. This is confirmed by the following statements:The President, Ministers of State, Deputies and Senators and other officials and officials designated by a constitutional organic law must publicly declare their interests and assets.”.
In Article 24, while defining the Presidency of the organ of the Republic, it is stated as follows:The government and administration of the state corresponds to the President who is the Head of State. Its jurisdiction covers everything aimed at maintaining public order within the internal and external security of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitution and laws.”. And the President of Article 32 No. 20 must: “Pay attention to the collection of public revenues and decide on their investments in accordance with the law (…)”.
Corruption presupposes a violation of the basic principles on which the democratic regime is based, which basically indicates that all public activities must pursue the common interests of citizens. Today’s question is whether President Sebastián Piñera has complied with it. That’s what constitutional prosecution exists for.