Sebastian Pinera, conservative billionaire and former president, wins Chile election
Officials say Pinera has 54.6% of votes, with center-left Sen. Alejandro Guillier taking 45.4%
Conservative billionaire and former president Sebastian Pinera has easily won Chile's presidential run-off election, moving the world's top copper-producing country back to the right, in the footsteps of other Latin American nations.
His rival, centre-left Sen. Alejandro Guillier, conceded the defeat to his supporters and said that he had called Pinera to congratulate him.
Officials say Pinera has 54.6 per cent of the votes to 45.4 per cent for Guillier, with nearly all votes counted.
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Chile has been hit by lower international prices and demand for copper, which is the backbone of its economy. The economic slowdown and disenchantment by Chileans who feel that President Michelle Bachelet wavered on her promises of profound social changes in labour and education initially helped Pinera, who ended his 2010-2014 term with a poor popularity rating.
Pinera, 68, won the first round vote with 36 per cent. He proposes slashing taxes on business to revive growth. He also vows to launch a $14 billion US, four-year spending plan that includes fresh investments in infrastructure. The Harvard-educated entrepreneur may benefit from low turnout as voting was made voluntary rather than mandatory in 2012.
Guillier, 64, obtained 22 per cent in the first round. He promises to continue Bachelet's plan to increase corporate taxes to partly finance an education overhaul, reform the constitution and improve the pension and health care system. He also wants to diversify Chile's copper-dependent economy and develop alternative sources of energy to lower investment costs.