Chileans to vote in presidential run-off
Chileans will be going to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president for another four years in a closely-contested runoff.
The vote is between former president Sebastian Pinera, 68, who is a right-wing billionaire businessman, and journalist and center-left Senator Alejandro Guillier, 64, who is backed by Chile’s left.
The runoff will determine whether the world’s top copper-producing country will turn to the right or maintain its center-left path.
Pinera was president between 2010 and 2014, a term that he ended with a poor popularity rating.
Copper export is the backbone of Chile’s economy and has been hit by lower international prices.
The economic slowdown and disenchantment by Chileans who feel that President Michelle Bachelet has wavered on her promises of profound social changes in labor and education helped Pinera in the first round of the election in November.
Pinera won more votes — 36 percent — in that round but could not secure an outright win.
He has proposed slashing taxes on business to revive growth. He has also vowed to launch a $14-billion, four-year spending plan that includes fresh investments in infrastructure. The Harvard-educated entrepreneur may benefit from low turnout as voting was made voluntary rather than mandatory in 2012.
Guillier obtained 22 percent in the first round.
He has promised to continue Bachelet’s plan to increase corporate taxes to partly finance an education overhaul, reform the constitution, and improve the pension and health care systems. He also wants to diversify Chile’s copper-dependent economy and develop alternative sources of energy to lower investment costs.
Polls are banned in the weeks ahead of the election, but analysts say that the race appears to be up for grabs.
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