Sebastian Pinera wins Chile’s presidential election

Billionaire conservative Sebastian Pinera won Chile’s presidency yesterday, with his center-left opponent Alejandro Guillier conceding the election as Chile followed other South American nations in a political turn to the right. With 98.44 percent of the ballots counted, Pinera, 68, had won 54.57 percent in the run-off vote, to 45.43 percent for senator Guillier, a wider than expected margin in a race that pollsters had predicted would be tight.

In his concession speech at a hotel in downtown Santiago, Guillier called his loss a “harsh defeat” and urged his supporters to defend the progressive reforms of outgoing President Michelle Bachelet’s second term. Many Chileans had viewed the election as a referendum on her policies, which focused on reducing inequality by making education more affordable and overhauling the tax code.

Pinera has pledged support and stable funding for Chile’s state-run miner Codelco , and has promised to slash red tape which had bogged down projects under Bachelet.

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