Sebastián Piñera wins the Chilean presidential elections

The candidate for the Coalition for Change will be sworn into power in March. His victory ends 20 years of uninterrupted Concertación governments.

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Sebastián Piñera, the candidate for the center-right Coalition for Change, won the election to determine who will govern Chile for the period 2010-2014. Piñera prevailed with 51.61% of the votes, while Eduardo Frei of the ruling alliance, the Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia, received 48.38%, with 99.2% of polling stations tallied.

Frei acknowledged his defeat and went to his contender’s campaign headquarters to congratulate him. “As a Chilean I wish you luck in your administration; I hope that dialogue, consensus-seeking and the social conquests that have cost us so much to regain – and which have made us a symbol of our relationship with the world – will prevail,” he said and then affirmed that the Concertación that has governed to country democratically for the last 20 years will engage in a constructive opposition. “If your government does well, then Chile does well,” affirmed the former president.

For his part, the election winner said that he received the victory with pride and humility. “You have given us the chance to change Chile for the better,” he said, accompanied by his wife Cecilia Morel, their children and followers. “Today more than ever our country needs unity. (…) We want to relive that stage in which agreements were the strongest thing uniting our country, notwithstanding legitimate differences, of course.”

Current Chilean President Michelle Bachelet also called Sebastián Piñera on the phone to congratulate him. “Today the people democratically elected you president of the republic and I hope that Chile can continue along the course of justice and social progress that we have charted (in Concertación governments) over the last 20 years,” she said. “We have once again proven to the world that we hold impeccable electoral processes.”

On the other end of the line, Piñera thanked her for the call and told her: “I want to ask for your advice and your help, because your four years of experience will be very important to continuing many of the good things that were done during your government, while also facing other challenges.”

The Chilean elections were marked by the civic order with which Chileans went to vote. The first polling stations opened early and by 18:00 the government had given the first vote count.

The new President

Sebastián Piñera Echenique was born in Santiago on 1 December 1949. He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and is a member of the party Renovación Nacional, which he represented as a senator between 1990 and 1998. He was a presidential candidate in 2005, when he was defeated by Michelle Bachelet. Piñera is also a businessman and shareholder in the airline LAN, in addition to owning the TV station Chilevisión and being one of the owners of the Chilean football team Colo Colo.

This post is also available in Spanish