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WP4 Institutional Conversion in the Executive: Chile Under Bachelet

This project has investigated institutional conversion in the executive arena by examining the still relatively unusual case of a female-headed core executive. Furthermore Chile's first woman president was elected in 2010 with an explicit gender agenda.

This project has investigated institutional conversion in the executive arena by examining the still relatively unusual case of a female-headed core executive.  Furthermore Chile's first woman president was elected in 2010 with an explicit gender agenda.  Preliminary research indicated that she could not create new institutions to help her achieve her aims but used a strategy of conversion to attempt change in her first presidency.  This project investigated the strategies, such as the use of pre-existing mechanisms like presidential decrees, constitutional tribunals and urgencies by which institutional change was both attempted and was blocked by opponents in her first presidency. It examined efforts to introduce change in several policy areas including welfare and reproductive rights as well as changes to existing institutions such as strengthening the women's agency SERNAM and the Council of ministers for Equality of Opportunity.  The project also considered the significance of the broader institutional context such as the strength of the Chilean core executive and emphasis on consensus within the political system since the transition to democracy.  Finally the project assessed how far any changes outlasted the subsequent election of a right-wing president in 2010, and compared Bachelet’s first with her second administration elected in 2014.  The methods employed to gather data were primarily qualitative, such as in-depth interviewing.

Duration 24 months. January 2015-December 2016.

Key people

Principal investigator:

  • Georgina Waylen

Research associate:

  • Carmen Sepulveda

Key publications

  • Georgina Waylen (ed) Gender, Institutions and Change in Bachelet's Chile Palgrave, 2016
  • Georgina Waylen ‘Gendering Politics, Institutions and the Executive: Bachelet in Context’ in Georgina Waylen (ed)
  • Carmen Sepulveda, ‘Formal and Informal Institutional Challenges to Women’s Reproductive Rights’ in G Waylen (ed)
  • Georgina Waylen ‘Comparing Bachelet’s two presidencies: continuity and change’ in op cit