In Brief

Sebastian Pinera: new president will take Chile to the right

The former president’s return maintains conservative momentum in South America

Former president Sebastian Pinera has won Chile’s presidential run-off, comfortably beating rival Alejandro Guillier in an election that many had tipped to go down to the wire.

Pinera’s victory extends a shift to the right in South American politics, following the rise of conservative leaders in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela and Peru.

With just under 99% of votes counted, Pinera, a 68-year old billionaire, is leading by 54.6% to 45.4%.

“The decisive nine-point victory, which came as a surprise because recent polls had suggested the race was much closer, showed that millions of Chileans saw Pinera as best suited to jump-start economic growth and to set the tone for contentious social debates,” says the Australian Financial Review.

In his victory speech, Pinera said Chile “needs agreements more than confrontations”. “The paths of the future unite us,” he added. “Sometimes the stories of the past separate us.”

In the first round of voting last month, Pinera took 36.6 per cent of the vote compared to Guillier’s 22.7 per cent.

The result “provides a mandate to reverse four years of economic and political reform put in place by President Michelle Bachelet,” The Daily Telegraph says.

In his concession speech, Guillier called his nine-point loss a “harsh defeat” and urged his supporters to defend Bachelet’s reforms.

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