Piñera wins Chiles’s presidential run-off

The ruling coalition’s candidate Eduardo Frei conceded defeat to the billionaire after 60 per cent of polling stations reported a 52 per cent to 48 per cent advantage for Mr Pinera.

Mr Piñera had a wide lead in every poll, and the race only tightened after Mr Frei and outgoing President Michelle Bachelet repeatedly invoked the legacy of Pinochet, whose dictatorship was supported by parties that make up Mr Piñera’s coalition.

The son of a prominent centrist politician, Mr Piñera has long sought to distance himself from Pinochet’s rule, when more than 3,000 suspected leftists were killed or “disappeared.” He wooed moderate voters by portraying himself as the leader of a new Right and an entrepreneur who made his fortune with hard work.

Mr Piñera’s victory was the Right’s first win in Chile since 1958, and bucks the trend in South America, where most governments are ruled by Leftists.

Mr Piñera, who ranks No. 701 on the Forbes global rich list, has said he will set aside his business empire to rule one of Latin America’s most stable economies.

“I will sell some (of my) companies … and dedicate myself to what has been my life calling – being a good president,” Mr Piñera said, wrapping up his campaign this week.

The 60-year-old Harvard-trained economist made his fortune introducing credit cards in Chile in the 1980s and is a major shareholder in airline LAN. He also has stakes in his favorite soccer team and a television station.

In the last presidential election in 2005, Mr Piñera lost to current Mrs Bachelet, the current president, but cemented his position as the leader of the right in Chile, also a top exporter of fruit and salmon.

Mrs Bachelet, immensely popular for her handling of the economic crisis, was barred from immediately running for re-election. Her high approval ratings did not help Mr Frei, a stoic civil engineer who had joked he was a “bit boring”.

Many Chileans are disenchanted with the ruling centre-Left “Concertacion” coalition and say the government could have made better use of billions of dollars in copper boom savings.

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