It is widely believed that autocratic regimes cannot limit their power through institutions of their own making. This book presents a surprising challenge to this view. It demonstrates that the Chilean armed forces were constrained by institutions of their own design. Based on extensive documentation of military decision-making, much of it long classified and unavailable, this book reconstructs the politics of institutions within the recent Chilean dictatorship (1973-1990). It examines the structuring of institutions at the apex of the military junta, the relationship of military rule with the prior constitution, the intra-military conflicts that led to the promulgation of the 1980 constitution, the logic of institutions contained in the new constitution, and how the constitution constrained the military junta after it went into force in 1981. This provocative account reveals the standard account of the dictatorship as a personalist regime with power concentrated in Pinochet to be grossly inaccurate.
1. Dictatorship, legality, and institutional constraints; 2. The Constitution of the Exception: defining the rules of military rule; 3. The constitution and the Dictatorship: The Supreme Court and the constitutionality of decree-laws; 4. The shadowy boundary between force and law: the judiciary, repression, and the cosmetic limitation of emergency powers; 5. Constitutionalization without transition: prompting the dual constitution of 1980; 6. The permanent text: constitutional controls or military tutelage?; 7. Even custom shoes bind: military rule under the constitution, 1981-1988; 8. Military dictatorship and constitutionalism in Chile.