Chilean Presidential Run-Off Could Be Close

Sebastián Piñera holds a slight edge as in Chile’s presidential run-off, according to a poll by MORI. 50.9 per cent of decided voters would support the candidate of the centre-right Coalition for Change (CC) in tomorrow’s election.

Former president Eduardo Frei Ruiz Tagle of the centre-left Agreement of Parties for Democracy (CPD) would finish a close second with 49.1 per cent.

The CPD’s Michelle Bachelet—a former defence minister—was elected in a January 2006 run-off with 53.49 per cent of all cast ballots. Piñera was second with 46.51 per cent. Bachelet is ineligible for a consecutive term in office.

The CPD—which includes the Socialist Party (PS), the Christian-Democratic Party of Chile (PCD), the Party for Democracy (PD) and the Radical Social-Democratic Party (PRSD)—has not lost a single presidential election in Chile since the return of democracy after the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in March 1990. The centre-right CC includes Piñera’s National Renewal (RN), the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), and Chile First (CH1).

Preliminary results from the first round of Chile’s presidential election—held on Dec. 11—placed Piñera ahead with 44.05 per cent of all cast ballots, followed by Frei with 29.60 per cent, independent candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami with 20.13 per cent, and left-wing candidate Jorge Arrate with 6.21 per cent. Since no candidate garnered more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, a run-off between the top two vote-getters will be held on Jan. 17.

On Jan. 14, Piñera criticized Bachelet’s behaviour during the campaign, declaring, “I believe a president never, ever, not even a couple of days before an election should forget that she is the president of all Chileans. (…) She has a right to her own opinion, but she also has to respect that a majority of Chileans want change.”

Polling Data

Which one of these candidates would you vote for in the presidential run-off? – Valid Vote Projection

Sebastián Piñera 50.9%
Eduardo Frei 49.1%

Source: MORI
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,200 Chilean adults, conducted from Jan. 1 to Jan. 9, 2010. Margin of error is 3 per cent.

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