Pinera set to gain most votes in Chile election, run-off likely

Monday 1439/3/2 - 2017/11/20
  • Share on Google+

Santiago de Chile, Rabi'I 02, 1439, November 20, 2017, SPA -- Conservative billionaire businessman
Sebastian Pinera was Sunday headed for a victory in Chile's
presidential elections, taking 36.67 per cent of the vote after around 78 per cent of ballots had been counted. The percentage is not enough for the 67-year-old to win the election in the first round, meaning he is likely to face Alejandro Guillier, 64, in a run-off on December 17, according to dpa.
Independent senator Guillier, who represents outgoing President Michelle Bachelet's centre-left coalition, was running second with 22.63 per cent.
Journalist Beatriz Sanchez, whose party Frente Amplio includes ecologists and left-wing liberals, came third with 20.36 per cent.
The fourth, among a total of eight candidates, was right-winger Jose Antonio Kast with 7.88 per cent of the vote.
About 14 million people were eligible to vote for Chile's president, the 155 members of the Chamber of Deputies and part of the Senate.
The fragmentation of the left was thought to favour Pinera, unless leftist voters unite behind a single candidate in the second round.
Bachelet and Pinera called on Chileans to exercise their right to vote amid concern that voter turnout might not exceed 40 per cent.
"If you don't vote, others will decide for you," tweeted Bachelet, whom the constitution barred from seeking a consecutive term.
The capital, Santiago de Chile, was offering free metro rides to make it easier for people to go to polling stations. People who were working were allowed to be absent for two hours in order to vote.
Meanwhile, police detained at least 23 people who had broken into Pinera's headquarters and were accusing him of corruption.
"We will need the unity of all Chileans," Pinera said after casting his vote, speaking as if he had already won.
"The winners will celebrate and the others will lend their support, because it is the good of the country that is at stake," Guillier said.
The expected victory of Pinera, who held the presidency from 2010 to 2014, would be the second time Chile elects a conservative president in three decades.
Chile has been one of South America's fastest-growing economies in recent decades, but growth slowed from 6.1 per cent in 2011 to a level that the country's central bank expects to stand between 1 and 1.75 per cent this year.
During his four-year presidency, Pinera presided over an average economic growth of more than 5 per cent, although the success was partly attributed to surging copper prices.
In the 2016 municipal elections, only 35 per cent of eligible voters went to the polls. The lack of interest is seen as reflecting a general disillusionment with politicians on both sides of the spectrum as a result of corruption scandals.
--SPA
03:45 LOCAL TIME 00:45 GMT