Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Piñera With Wide Lead Heading into Chilean Elections



A new poll out today by the Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Contemporánea reports that Sebastián Piñera, running under the Alliance for Chile coalition, leads the presidential polls with 44.1 percent support, compared to 31 percent for Eduardo Frei of the governing Concertación coalition. Independent candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami is projected to gain 17.7 percent of the votes, while Jorge Arrate’s support is at 7.2 percent. If Piñera wins, it will mark the first time that a conservative government has ruled Chile since the end of the Pinochet era in 1990.

“I wouldn’t rule out a [Piñera] win in the first round,” said Carlos Huneeus, director of the Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Contemporánea, who noted that “the right is in the best condition than ever” of attaining power. Nonetheless, if Piñera doesn’t win the outright majority in the first round, there will be a runoff in January with the two highest scoring candidates. If Piñera is pitted against Frei, Huneeus estimates Piñera would win 49 votes of the votes and Frei just 32 percent. However, if Ominami is his opponent, Piñera would lose 2 percentage points to Ominami.

The CERC polled 1,200 Chileans from all over the country between November 24 and December 5. It has a margin error of 3 percent.

Piñera, a billionaire businessman, lost to President Michelle Bachelet in the second round of the 2006 elections, and has vowed to use his private-sector knowledge to help boost the economy. Former President Eduardo Frei, who served from 1994-2000, plans to maintain the fiscal policies enacted under current President Bachelet. Meanwhile, Enriquez-Ominami, 36, has “shaken up the race by adding a new dynamic of competition and offering an exciting alternative presidential candidacy,” according to an Americas Quarterly Web Exclusive article.

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