Chile dodges a socialist bullet, elects conservative candidate Sebastian Piñera as president

After ousting communist president Salvador Allende in 1973 who under the control of the Castro dictatorship was on his way to turning Chile into another Cuba, the country has been a role model for Latin America on how democracy and free markets secure freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, Latin America has mostly ignored Chile’s example. Nevertheless, by rejecting socialism and embracing democracy, Chileans have enjoyed decades of security, freedom, and prosperity.

However, all of Chile’s gains in freedom and prosperity would be lost if leftist presidential candidate Alejandro Guillier won the presidency. Luckily for Chile and the region, he did not. Yesterday, the Chilean people chose Sebastian Piñera to be their next president and in doing so, chose the freedom of democracy over the enslavement of socialism.

Via the BBC:

Chile election: Conservative Piñera elected president

Left-winger Alejandro Guillier conceded and congratulated his opponent on his win and his return to the presidency after a four-year gap.

With nearly all votes counted, Mr Piñera has polled more than 54%.

It is a clear move to the right for the country, which is currently led by socialist President Michelle Bachelet. She had backed Mr Guillier.

About 14 million were eligible to vote in the ballot, including Chileans living abroad for the first time.

However, voter turnout was low, at 48.5%. It had been thought that a high turnout would favour Mr Guillier.

Mr Piñera called for unity after his victory:

“Chile needs agreements more than confrontations,” he said. “The paths of the future unite us. Sometimes the stories of the past separate us.”

Reaching out to his opponent, Mr Piñera added: “I want to talk to him about the points we agree about.”

Billionaire businessman Mr Piñera won the first round of votes by a large margin, when the number of candidates reduced from eight to two for a final run-off.

He has already governed the country from 2010 to 2014, when he ended two decades of uninterrupted centre-left rule. But the former president and his Chile Vamos coalition had only a slim lead in the most recent opinion polls before Sunday’s election vote.

He had the support of the business community, promising to lower taxes to get the economy growing again.

During his campaign, he promised to rein in the reforms brought in by President Bachelet, while his opponent Mr Guillier, on the other hand, campaigned on the back of her legacy.

While President Bachelet’s progressive agenda has won plaudits abroad, her popularity plummeted during her second term, due in part to a 2015 corruption scandal involving her daughter-in-law.

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