SANTIAGO — Conservative former President Sebastian Pinera has won Chile's presidential runoff election. Initial results placed him well ahead of his center-left opponent Alejandro Guillier, who subsequently conceded defeat.
Conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera looked set for a return to office after he secured a comfortable lead on his opponent in Chile's presidential runoff vote on Sunday. The electoral results push Chile politically towards the right, following other South American nations who have experienced similar electoral outcomes.
With more than 96 percent of the votes counted, the former president had claimed 54.57 percent of the vote, according to the electoral agency.
His opponent, senator and former journalist Alejandro Guillier, has 45.43 percent of the vote. Guillier ran as an independent but was backed by the center-left.
Guillier congratulated Pinera and conceded the election shortly after the initial results were announced. At a press conference, Guillier said the left had suffered "a tough defeat" but urged Pinera to follow through on reforms put in place by current center-left President Michelle Bachelet.
Pinera, who ran the country between 2010 and 2014, will succeed outgoing President Bachelet, who steps down in March.
Pinera won 36 percent of the vote in the first round in November, while Guillier garnered just 22 percent — the weakest result for a center-left candidate since Chile's return to democracy in 1990.
A Harvard-educated businessman, Pinera sought to capitalize on broad discontent with the outgoing Bachelet, who struggled to fulfill campaign promises to reform labor and education in the country.
Unlike in several other Latin American countries, voting is no longer mandatory in Chile. Around 14 million people were eligible to cast ballots on Sunday.
Chile has been one of South America's fastest-growing economies in recent decades. Growth has slowed in recent years, due in part to the falling price of copper — the country's top export.