Sebastian Pinera and Alejandro Guillier face off in Chile’s presidential runoff


Voters in Chile head to the runoff for president on Sunday after opposition candidate Sebastian Pinera failed to reach the required 50 percent of the vote. Leftist candidate Alejandro Guillier beat out his rivals in November’s first round of voting, garnering about 40 percent of the vote.

He will face out with right-wing Pinera, who hopes to become the first Chilean president since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship to not be allied with the retired general, who spent 17 years in power.

Mr. Guillier is backed by sections of the traditional left, but has also attracted support from the once powerful Democratic Awakening party, and promises to focus on the environment, digital economy, and social issues such as education.

Election results so far indicate that Mr. Guillier could end up as the second Chilean president ever to be born outside the South American country, after Patricio Aylwin, the first foreign-born president.

The Globe and Mail reports:

Results so far from provincial results show Mr. Guillier winning the candidacy of the capital province, Santiago, on a relative high, but with the backing of a strong minority in the coming months. He also won the rest of the country’s conservative strongholds. Mr. Pinera is leading in the coastal regions and in regions in the southern half of the country. The overall picture underscores the robust democratic institutions in Chile. Mr. Pinera, an investor darling, maintained a relatively high proportion of his votes from the first round of voting, giving him momentum as the two-week campaign drags on into the May 10 run-off. The former president has demonstrated a strong ability to bank on conservative support in the first round, but perhaps failed to mobilize the middle- and upper-middle-class sectors that make up most of the electorate in Chile.

Mr. Guillier has pledged to fight high inequality and bring about free education, health care, and political participation among the country’s poorest residents. Mr. Pinera is trying to exploit voters’ fears that inequality will increase under the leftist candidate, while promising a government with economic policies “more conservative than the outgoing regime.”

Mr. Pinera’s campaign promises also include infrastructure, job creation, and global aid in areas such as climate change.

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