Chile election: conservative Piñera leads in vote count

Who will succeed Michelle Bachelet in Chile?


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Sebastián Piñera (L) and Alejandro Guillier were almost neck and neck in the opinion polls

Early results in the Chilean presidential election count give conservative frontrunner candidate Sebastián Piñera an early lead.

He is up against Alejandro Guillier, who has been endorsed by the current socialist President Michelle Bachelet.

With just under 47% counted, Mr Piñera has over 54% of the votes.

The ballot was billed as a straight choice between very different economic visions for the country, with observers watching for a right-wing swing.

Billionaire businessman Mr Piñera has already governed the country from 2010 to 2014, and had a slim lead in the most recent opinion polls before Sunday’s election vote.

He won the first round of votes by a large margin, when the number of candidates reduced from eight to two for a final run-off.

He has promised to rein in the reforms brought in by President Bachelet, while his opponent Mr Guillier, on the other hand, has campaigned on the back of President Bachelet’s legacy.

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President Bachelet hopes Mr Guillier will continue many of her policies

While President Bachelet’s progressive agenda has won plaudits abroad, her popularity plummeted during her second term, due in part to a 2015 corruption scandal involving her daughter-in-law.

This year, however, the president overcame conservative opposition to successfully ease Chile’s strict anti-abortion laws.

Conservative critics say Ms Bachelet pushed her reforms too far.

A decade ago, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela were all governed by left-wing leaders.

But in recent years, conservatives have come to power in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” has come under severe pressure with anti-government protesters taking to the streets for months.


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