News ID: 206386
Published: 0447 GMT December 18, 2017

Conservative ex-President Pinera wins runoff election in Chile (Video)

Conservative ex-President Pinera wins runoff election in Chile (Video)
Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera celebrates his victory with his family and supporters outside a hotel in Santiago after the runoff election on December 17, 2017. (AFP)

Billionaire ex-President of Chile Sebastian Pinera will return to power as Chile’s president next year, according to virtually complete results from a runoff election held Sunday.

Electoral authorities said the 68-year-old conservative, who previously led the South American nation from 2010-2014, had 55 percent of the vote, with 98 percent of ballots counted, reported.

His leftist rival Alejandro Guillier, a 64-year-old TV presenter turned senator who ran as an independent backed by outgoing center-left President Michelle Bachelet, conceded after receiving 45 percent.

 “We have suffered a tough defeat,” Guillier said. He called for the opposition to “defend” reforms started under Bachelet.


The presidential candidate of the New Majority coalition, Alejandro Guillier (C), recognizes his defeat during the runoff presidential election at the National Stadium in Santiago on December 17, 2017. (AFP)

Pinera will lead the country — the world’s top copper producer — for four years starting in March 2018.

He will once again take over from Bachelet, who was barred by the constitution from running for re-election.

Bachelet and Pinera have tag-teamed the presidency since Bachelet first took office in 2006. Since then, they have alternated in power, switching Chile’s politics between center-left and center-right each time.

Pinera supporters were gathered outside his election headquarters in anticipation of his victory speech.


Supporters of Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera celebrate his victory in Santiago after the runoff election on December 17, 2017. (AFP)

The outcome of the runoff had been far from certain after Pinera scored a much lower than expected 37 percent in the first round of the election held November 19.

Voting had taken place under a somber cloud Sunday, following the deaths of 11 people and the disappearance of 15 others in a mudslide in a southern town.

The picturesque village of Villa Santa Lucia was unable to vote in the runoff.

Pinera and Guillier also promised to expand free university tuition brought in under Bachelet — a measure with historical resonance in Chile because paid tuition was introduced under Pinochet's 1973-1990 rule.

For Pinera, the vow was a U-turn, contradicting an earlier statement he had made that free things mean less commitment.

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