Pinera elected Chile's president

Jan. 17, 2010 at 10:36 PM

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Sebastian Pinera won Chile's presidential election Sunday, becoming the first conservative leader since Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship ended two decades ago.

Pinera, a 60-year-old billionaire, had garnered 51.6 percent of the vote to ruling coalition candidate Eduardo Frei's 48.3 percent with 99 percent of polling places reporting, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Frei, a former president who conceded defeat Sunday evening, noted his center-left Concertacion coalition had overseen Chile's transition from a dictatorship to a democracy.

"Chile is much better than the country we received in 1990," he said.

Pinera's four-year term begins in March, when he succeeds the popular President Michelle Bachelet, who was forbidden by the constitution to serve consecutive terms.

The Harvard-trained Pinera has interests in Chile's biggest airline, a soccer club and a television station. He pledged to be an "entrepreneurial president" and strive for more efficiency in the government while stimulating private investment.

Riordan Roett, a Latin America scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said Piñera's victory represented "the arrival in power of the democratic right that has traveled a long road from pseudo-fascism to mainstream politics."

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
TSU shooting: 1 dead, 1 wounded in third shooting this week at Houston campus
Listeria threat prompts Whole Foods cheese recall
Russia says missiles aimed at Syria did not land in Iran
Captive orca breeding banned at California's SeaWorld
Wrong drug used in Oklahoma execution