Monday , February 6 2023

President Pinera and his political responsibility


To speak of the political responsibility of the ruler means to refer to the control of the exercise of the power he exercises, that is, to the determination of whether the power he has can become absolute or, on the contrary, subject to principles and rules that limit it.

In a democracy, the exercise of power presupposes essential counterbalances, such as respect for the Constitution and the law, the institutional division of powers and civil liberties, which enable society to develop fully.

In any modern democracy, rulers must hold citizens accountable for the exercise of their functions of power, and society has an obligation to hold them accountable for corruption, abuse of power or human rights violations and to make them accountable for acts or omissions that violate these principles. Chile is no exception.

The property that is protected is many, but at least three are important: kindness, transparency and trust, all important principles for the cohesion and stability of a democratic society.

Thus, the debate over the discovery of a possible embezzlement over the Dominga mining port project in the Coquimbo region, which involves the direct or indirect involvement of President Sebastian Pinera, cannot go unanswered, in a double sense. First, as the political responsibility of the president in the performance of his function, what should be decided by the National Congress; and then a criminal decision, if the data justify it, which suits the courts of justice. In a democratic form, both proceedings are conducted in separate sequences, as they correspond to different areas: one to political law and the other to criminal law.

The realization of the responsibility of the rulers is the result of the centuries-old development of the constitutional history of the West, not only to enable democracy, but also to avoid abuse and excessive and discretionary concentration of power in its actions.

In particular, political accountability is the result of a distinction made about the correct or improper use of a body or representative for the action of the authorities, in accordance with its powers, and in relation to the public interest. It is neither more nor less than a political-legal value judgment in the exercise of office, but it does not impose criminal responsibility, which corresponds to the Criminal Code. And, strictly speaking, they are not incompatible.

The international criterion for evaluating and understanding the actions of rulers as corrupt is that they meet four basic characters. First, to suit people or groups performing public functions; second, that it implies the exercise of public authority and with a certain free decision; third, that there is a personal interest of the subject, direct or indirect, in the commission of the act or omission, with the awareness that such interest agrees; and fourth, that the official is aware that his actions or omissions are or may be considered illegal or inappropriate, or directly contrary to the interests of citizens.

It will be complex to solve these four points, having in mind the text of the current Political Constitution, conceived as an autocrat. However, his eighth article states the following: “The performance of public functions obliges their holders to strictly adhere to them the principle of fairness in all his performances”. He adds that: “Acts and resolutions of state bodies are public, as are their foundations and the procedures they use.”. That is, honesty and transparency are the orientation values ​​of the whole system. This is confirmed by the statement: “The President of the Republic, state ministers, deputies and senators, and other bodies and officials indicated by the constitutional organic law, must publicly declare their interests and property.”.

And when defining the Presidency of the republic body, Article 24 says: “The government and the state administration are accountable to the President of the Republic, who is the head of state. Its powers extend to everything that aims to preserve public order in the internal and external security of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitution and laws.”. In Article 32, no. 20, the President must: ‘Take care of the collection of public revenues and arrange their investment in accordance with the law (…) ”.

Corruption presupposes a violation of the basic principles on which the democratic regime is based, at the core of which indicates that all public activities must strive for the common interest of citizens. Today’s question is whether President Sebastian Pinera adhered to this. That is what the Constitutional Prosecutor’s Office is for.

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