The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Chile

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This page contains a list of the greatest Chilean Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 19,576 Politicians, 53 of which were born in Chile. This makes Chile the birth place of the 57th most number of Politicians behind Pakistan, and Latvia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Chilean Politicians of all time. This list of famous Chilean Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Chilean Politicians.

Photo of Augusto Pinochet

1. Augusto Pinochet (1915 - 2006)

With an HPI of 79.32, Augusto Pinochet is the most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages on wikipedia.

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (25 November 1915 – 10 December 2006) was a Chilean army officer and military dictator who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990. He was the leader of the military junta from 1973 to 1981, and was declared President of the Republic by the junta in 1974 and thus became the dictator of Chile, and from 1981 to 1990 as de jure president after a new constitution which confirmed him in the office was approved by a referendum in 1980. His time in office remains the longest of any Chilean ruler.Augusto Pinochet rose through the ranks of the Chilean Army to become General Chief of Staff in early 1972 before being appointed its Commander-in-Chief on 23 August 1973 by President Salvador Allende. On 11 September 1973, Pinochet seized power in Chile in a military coup, with the support of the United States, that toppled Allende's democratically elected left-wing Unidad Popular government and ended civilian rule. In December 1974, the ruling military junta appointed Pinochet Supreme Head of the nation by joint decree, although without the support of one of the coup's instigators, Air Force General Gustavo Leigh. After his rise to power, Pinochet persecuted leftists, socialists, and political critics, resulting in the executions of 1,200 to 3,200 people, the internment of as many as 80,000 people, and the torture of tens of thousands. According to the Chilean government, the number of executions and forced disappearances was at least 3,095. Operation Condor, a U.S.-supported terror operation focusing on South America, was founded at the behest of the Pinochet regime in late November 1975, his 60th birthday.Under the influence of the free market–oriented "Chicago Boys", Pinochet's military government implemented economic liberalization following neoliberalism, including currency stabilization, removed tariff protections for local industry, banned trade unions, and privatized social security and hundreds of state-owned enterprises. Some of the government properties were sold below market price to politically connected buyers, including Pinochet's son-in-law Julio Ponce Lerou. The regime used censorship of entertainment as a way to reward supporters of the regime and punish opponents. These policies dramatically increased economic inequality and produced high economic growth. They caused the 1982 monetary crisis, and thus produced its devastating effects on the Chilean economy. Pinochet's wealth grew considerably during his years in power through dozens of bank accounts secretly held abroad and holdings in real estate. He was later prosecuted for embezzlement, tax fraud, and kickbacks on arms deals.Pinochet's 17-year rule was given a legal framework through a controversial 1980 plebiscite, which approved a new constitution drafted by a government-appointed commission. In a 1988 plebiscite, 56% voted against Pinochet's continuing as president, which led to democratic elections for the presidency and Congress. After stepping down in 1990, Pinochet continued to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army until 10 March 1998, when he retired and became a senator-for-life in accordance with his 1980 Constitution. However, while in London in 1998 Pinochet was arrested under an international arrest warrant in connection with numerous human rights violations. Following a legal battle, he was released on grounds of ill-health and returned to Chile on 3 March 2000. In 2004, Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia ruled that Pinochet was medically fit to stand trial and placed him under house arrest. By the time of his death on 10 December 2006, about 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for numerous human rights violations during his 17-year rule, as well as tax evasion and embezzlement during and after his rule. He was also accused of having corruptly amassed at least US$28 million.

Photo of Salvador Allende

2. Salvador Allende (1908 - 1973)

With an HPI of 78.62, Salvador Allende is the 2nd most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.

Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens (26 June 1908 – 11 September 1973) was a Chilean socialist politician who served as the 28th president of Chile from 1970 until his death in 1973. As a democratic socialist committed to democracy, he has been described as the first Marxist to be elected president in a liberal democracy in Latin America.Allende's involvement in Chilean politics spanned a period of nearly forty years, during which he held various positions including senator, deputy, and cabinet minister. As a life-long committed member of the Socialist Party of Chile, whose foundation he had actively contributed to, he unsuccessfully ran for the national presidency in the 1952, 1958, and 1964 elections. In 1970, he won the presidency as the candidate of the Popular Unity coalition in a close three-way race. He was elected in a run-off by Congress, as no candidate had gained a majority. In office, Allende pursued a policy he called "The Chilean Way to Socialism". The coalition government was far from unanimous. Allende said that he was committed to democracy and represented the more moderate faction of the Socialist Party, while the radical wing sought a more radical course. Instead, the Communist Party of Chile favored a gradual and cautious approach that sought cooperation with Christian democrats, which proved influential for the Italian Communist Party and the Historic Compromise.As president, Allende sought to nationalize major industries, expand education, and improve the living standards of the working class. He clashed with the right-wing parties that controlled Congress and with the judiciary. On 11 September 1973, the military moved to oust Allende in a coup d'état supported by the CIA, which initially denied the allegations. In 2000, the CIA admitted its role in the 1970 kidnapping of General René Schneider who had refused to use the army to stop Allende's inauguration. Declassified documents released in 2023 showed that US president Richard Nixon, his national security advisor Henry Kissinger, and the United States government, which had branded Allende as a dangerous communist, were aware of the military's plans to overthrow Allende's democratically-elected government in the days before the coup d'état.As troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende gave his last speech vowing not to resign. Later that day, Allende died by suicide in his office; the exact circumstances of his death are still disputed. Following Allende's death, General Augusto Pinochet refused to return authority to a civilian government, and Chile was later ruled by the Government Junta, ending more than four decades of uninterrupted democratic governance, a period known as the Presidential Republic. The military junta that took over dissolved Congress, suspended the Constitution of 1925, and initiated a program of persecuting alleged dissidents, in which at least 3,095 civilians disappeared or were killed. Pinochet's military dictatorship only ended after the successful internationally-backed 1989 constitutional referendum led to the peaceful Chilean transition to democracy.

Photo of Michelle Bachelet

3. Michelle Bachelet (b. 1951)

With an HPI of 67.63, Michelle Bachelet is the 3rd most famous Chilean Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 102 different languages.

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish: [βeˈɾonika miˈʃel βaʃeˈle ˈxeɾja]; born 29 September 1951) is a Chilean politician who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2018 to 2022. She previously served as President of Chile from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018 for the Socialist Party of Chile. She is the first woman to hold the Chilean presidency. After leaving the presidency in 2010 and before becoming eligible for re-election, she was appointed as the first executive director of the newly established United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In December 2013, Bachelet was re-elected with over 62% of the vote, surpassing the 54% she received in 2006. She was the first President of Chile to be re-elected since 1932. Bachelet, a physician who has studied military strategy at the university level, previously served as the Health Minister and Defense Minister under her predecessor, Ricardo Lagos. She is a separated mother of three and identifies as an agnostic. In addition to her native Spanish, she speaks English fluently and has some proficiency in German, French, and Portuguese.

Photo of Sebastián Piñera

4. Sebastián Piñera (1949 - 2024)

With an HPI of 66.71, Sebastián Piñera is the 4th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique (Spanish: [miˈɣel ˈxwan seβasˈtjam piˈɲeɾa etʃeˈnike] ; 1 December 1949 – 6 February 2024) was a Chilean businessman and politician who served as president of Chile from 2010 to 2014 and again from 2018 to 2022. The son of a Christian Democratic politician and diplomat, he studied business administration at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and economics at Harvard University. At the time of his death, he had an estimated net worth of US$2.7 billion, according to Forbes, making him the third richest person in Chile and the 1177th richest person in the world.A member of the liberal-conservative National Renewal party, he served as a senator for the East Santiago district from 1990 to 1998, running for the presidency in the 2005 election, which he lost to Michelle Bachelet, and again, successfully, in 2010. As a result, he became Chile's first conservative president to be democratically elected since 1958, and the first to hold the office since the departure of Augusto Pinochet in 1990.The legacy of Piñera's two administrations include the reconstruction following the 2010 Chile earthquake, the rescue of 33 trapped miners in 2010, a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in Chile in 2021–2022. After leaving office in 2022 Piñera developed amicable relations with the new left-wing president Gabriel Boric, who had previously been a harsh critic of him. Piñera died in a helicopter crash on Lake Ranco on 6 February 2024 at age 74. Piñera's supporters form a cross-party centre-right and right-wing faction called Piñerism.

Photo of Bernardo O'Higgins

5. Bernardo O'Higgins (1778 - 1842)

With an HPI of 64.99, Bernardo O'Higgins is the 5th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme (Spanish pronunciation: [beɾˈnaɾðo oˈ(x)iɣins] ; 20 August 1778 – 24 October 1842) was a Chilean independence leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. He was a wealthy landowner of Basque-Spanish and Irish ancestry. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile (1817–1823), he is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state. He was Captain General of the Chilean Army, Brigadier of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, General Officer of Gran Colombia and Grand Marshal of Peru.

Photo of Patricio Aylwin

6. Patricio Aylwin (1918 - 2016)

With an HPI of 62.19, Patricio Aylwin is the 6th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Patricio Aylwin Azócar (Latin American Spanish pronunciation: [paˈtɾisjo ˈelwin aˈsokaɾ] ; 26 November 1918 – 19 April 2016) was a Chilean politician from the Christian Democratic Party, lawyer, author, professor and former senator. He was the 30th president of Chile and the first president to be elected after the absolute rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet, and his election marked the Chilean transition to democracy in 1990. Despite resistance from elements of the Chilean military and government after his election, Aylwin was staunch in his support for the Chilean National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation which exposed the systematic brutalities of the dictatorship.

Photo of Eduardo Frei Montalva

7. Eduardo Frei Montalva (1911 - 1982)

With an HPI of 60.73, Eduardo Frei Montalva is the 7th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Eduardo Nicanor Frei Montalva (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈðwaɾðo fɾej monˈtalβa]; 16 January 1911 – 22 January 1982) was a Chilean political leader. In his long political career, he was Minister of Public Works, president of his Christian Democratic Party, senator, President of the Senate, and the 27th president of Chile from 1964 to 1970. His eldest son, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, also became president of Chile (1994–2000). Frei's Christian Democratic Party supported the Armed Forces intervention to remove his successor Salvador Allende from office in 1973, after the Chamber of Deputies, on 22 August 1973, accused Allende of violating the Constitution. He was later a vocal opponent of the Augusto Pinochet regime. On 22 January 1982, Frei died in Santiago, Chile, following surgery. Assassination was suspected by some but has never been proven. On 18 August 2023, the Supreme Court ruled out the assassination charges and declared innocent all those accused.

Photo of Ricardo Lagos

8. Ricardo Lagos (b. 1938)

With an HPI of 59.98, Ricardo Lagos is the 8th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar (Spanish pronunciation: [riˈkaɾðo fɾojˈlan ˈlaɣos eskoˈβaɾ]; born 2 March 1938) is a Chilean lawyer, economist and social-democratic politician who served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. During the 1980s he was a well-known opponent of the Chilean military dictatorship and astounded contemporaries in 1988 by openly denouncing dictator Augusto Pinochet on live television. He served as Minister of Education from 1990 to 1992 and Minister of Public Works from 1994 to 1998 under president Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle before narrowly winning the 1999–2000 presidential election in a runoff against Independent Democrat Union (UDI) candidate Joaquín Lavín. Lagos was the third president from the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy to have governed Chile since 1990. He was succeeded on 11 March 2006 by Socialist Michelle Bachelet, from the same coalition. From 2007 to 2010 he served as a Special Envoy on Climate Change for the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Lagos made an unsuccessful bid to run for president in the 2017 Chilean general election.

Photo of Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle

9. Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (b. 1942)

With an HPI of 59.46, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle is the 9th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz–Tagle (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈðwaɾðo alˈfɾeðo ˈxwam beɾˈnaɾðo ˈfɾej rwis ˈtaɣle]; born 24 June 1942) is a Chilean politician and civil engineer who served as president of Chile from 1994 to 2000. He was also a Senator, fulfilling the role of President of the Senate from 2006 to 2008. He attempted a comeback as the candidate of the ruling Concertación coalition for the 2009 presidential election, but was narrowly defeated. His father was Eduardo Frei Montalva, president of Chile from 1964 to 1970. His presidency was marked by a consolidation of Chile's transition to democracy albeit the indictment and arrest of Augusto Pinochet in his last year of goverment heated up national politics. Economically, he oversaw a period of rapid economic growth that was only temporarily stunted by the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In the 2020s he has taken political positions different from those of the Christian Democratic Party aligning more with the views of centrist and right-wing parties in the constitutional referendums of 2022 and 2023.

Photo of Luis Corvalán

10. Luis Corvalán (1916 - 2010)

With an HPI of 58.47, Luis Corvalán is the 10th most famous Chilean Politician.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Luis Nicolás Corvalán Lepe (14 September 1916, in Puerto Montt – 21 July 2010) was a Chilean politician. He served as the general secretary of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh). Corvalán joined the Communist Party of Chile at the age of fifteen in the city of Chillán shortly after the fall of the dictatorship of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo in 1932. Trained as a teacher, after 1952 he became an elected member of the PCCh's Central Committee, and after 1958 served as the secretary-general. The party was outlawed from 1948 until 1958. On 11 September 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a military coup and Corvalán was among the many arrested. After the murder of Víctor Jara, he was the most prominent political prisoner in Chile. While in prison, Luis Corvalán was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize (for 1973–74). The Soviet Union launched an international campaign for his release and on 18 December 1976, Corvalán was exchanged for a notable Soviet political prisoner, dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, and received asylum in the USSR.Corvalán headed the Communist Party of Chile – both within Chile and whilst in exile – for over three decades, which covered the whole period of the Pinochet military dictatorship. Corvalán returned to Chile in 1990 after the end of the Pinochet regime.

People

Pantheon has 50 people classified as Chilean politicians born between 1768 and 1988. Of these 50, 6 (12.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Chilean politicians include Michelle Bachelet, Ricardo Lagos, and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle. The most famous deceased Chilean politicians include Augusto Pinochet, Salvador Allende, and Sebastián Piñera.

Living Chilean Politicians

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Deceased Chilean Politicians

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Overlapping Lives

Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.