The right looks set to return to power in Chile, ending more than two decades of left-wing rule following the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. With the count almost complete, billionaire Sebastian Pinera has 44 per cent of the vote, putting him in confident mood for the run-off.
“Over the next 35 days,” he said, “let’s hold a clean campaign, a campaign of ideas, a campaign about the future, a campaign about proposals and a campaign without electoral intervention and without abuses.”
Pinera will meet a former president in the second round. Eduardo Frei won just under 30 per cent of the vote, and called upon supporters of two other beaten leftist candidates to switch their allegiance to him:
“I ask you for confidence in Chile and confidence in me. I invite those who voted for Jorge Arrate or Marco Enriquez-Ominami to join me.”
A Pinera victory in January would mark a shift to the right in a region dominated by left-wing leaders, although few expect him to change many of the policies which have made Chile a model of stability. He has promised to strengthen the economy and create a million new jobs.