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News > Latin America

Who Will Be Chile's Next President?

  • Chilean presidential candidates Alejandro Guillier (R) and Sebastian Pinera (L) attend a live televised debate in Santiago, Chile.

    Chilean presidential candidates Alejandro Guillier (R) and Sebastian Pinera (L) attend a live televised debate in Santiago, Chile. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 December 2017

Chileans now choose between two candidates in the second round of Chile's presidential elections.

With a once wide electoral field narrowed down to the top two candidates, millions of Chilean voters will go to the polls this Sunday for the second round of presidential elections.

Chilean Presidential Candidates Face-off Before Next Round

Right-wing businessman and former President Sebastian Piñera came out on top in the first round of votes, however a more unified left in the second round behind center-leftist Alejandro Guillier has placed Piñera's presidential prospects in a more precarious position.

In spite of recent gains by Guillier, the election is still expected to be close, and will largely depend on who previously undecided voters decide to go with. With the majority of Chile's registered voters having abstained in the general election, Piñera only won 36.64 percent of the vote, a number he would need to increase if he wants to take the presidency.

TeleSUR takes a look at the two candidates, one of whom will be the next president of Chile.

Alejandro Guillier

The Center-left sociologist and journalist, Alejandro Guillier, is running on a social democratic ticket as an independent supported by the New Majority coalition, which is the current ruling coalition backing President Michelle Bachelet.

Against the Tide of Pinochet: Chile’s Elections and the Left

The first-term senator and former journalist who launched the popular TV show Zero Tolerance is commonly viewed as an “outsider,” which helps distinguish him from the leadership of Bachelet while also continuing the legacy of the coalition that has won nearly every election since Chile's return to democracy after the brutal military rule.

Calling himself the “President of the people,” Guiller has made employment for all, gender equality, public health, and the “construction of a more fair and inclusive country” the backbone of his campaign.

The New Majority is a diverse center-left coalition that includes the Communist Party, MAS Region, Citizen Left, Party for Democracy, Social Democrat Radical Party, and the Socialist Party. The Christian Democratic Party, which previously represented the center-right wing of the coalition, has left it to field their own candidates.

Whereas during the first round, Chile's left was sharply split between the ruling New Majority, and the up and coming new-left Broad Front, Guillier has since found himself bolstered by greater unity and support.

The Broad Front has not formally endorsed any candidate in the second round, but former candidate Beatriz Sanchez announced that her “vote is against Sebastian Piñera,” and therefore “for Alejandro Guillier.”

The Christian Democratic Party, who had originally fielded their own candidate, has also backed Guillier.

Sebastian Piñera

Right-wing businessman and former president from 2010 to 2014, Sebastian Piñera is backed by the Let's Go Chile coalition.

The Independent Regionalist Party, Independent Democratic Union, National Renewal, Political Evolution, and Amplitude party were the original coalition backing him, although other right-wing forces have also thrown in their support after the first round of votes.

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Piñera has campaigned promising to implement neoliberal reforms, including laying off tens of thousands of public servants and closing down the Employment and Training Office.

He has also emphasized being tough on crime and drug trafficking and has criticized the Bachelet government for supposedly failing to do so.

The first billionaire to have been Chile's president, the gaffe-prone Piñera has frequently been accused of having conflicts of interest in Chilean politics.

After Piñera issued little-evidenced claims of electoral fraud during the first round, the billionaire's image and credibility suffered. He has since resorted to increasingly inflammatory attacks against his opponent, who he called “demagogue and a populist,” who would turn Chile into “Chilezuela” according to some of his more strident supporters.

Although far-right figures such as José Antonio Kast, who has ties to the former Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship, has endorsed Piñera's claims, they have been widely dismissed. Current President Michelle Bachelet said that the remarks “discredited” the democratic institutions of Chile, and Guillier called them “libel against Chile.”

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