Former head of State, conservative billionaire Sebastián Piñera was elected Chilean president with 54,57% of preferences during this Sunday’s run-off election.
Thus, he is set to succeed sitting president Michelle Bachelet as he surpassed his opponent, independent senator, Alejandro Guillier.
Mr Guillier, a former news anchor, followed him in second place with 45,43% of the votes.
This will be Mr Piñera’s second term in office. He will be inagurated on 11 March 2018 and will receive the presidential sash from Ms Bachelet just like it already happened on 11 March 2010.
Radio Bio Bio’s statistics team provided this information at 19:22, Chile time. The Electoral Service confirmed that the radio’s results were final at 21:11.
Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique, better known as Sebastián Piñera, was born in Santiago on 1 December 1949 to Magdalena Echenique and José Piñera. He is married to Cecilia Morel and has four children: Magdalena, Cecilia, Sebastián and Cristóbal.
He graduated from Universidad Católica with a business major and completed his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard University in 1976.
He was a senator for West Santiago between 1990 and 1998 and president of Chile between 2010 and 2014, after two unsuccessful candidacies in 1999 and 2005.
Mr Piñera is one of Chile’s most recognized businessmen. In 1997, he entered the private sector as a member of Infinco, a financial and risk assessment consultancy.
In 1978, he was appointed CEO at Banco de Talca, but resigned after the board asked him to leave. In 1979, he created Bancard S.A., company that brought to Chile both Visa and Mastercard.
Later, he went on to buying 16% of LAN, nowadays Latam -an airline-, became a shareholder of Entel -telecommunications- and Blanco y Negro -football-, invested in AntarChile -a fishing, oil and forestry holding- and Quiñenco -a financial, manufacture, energy, transport and port services holding- bought Chilevisión -a TV station- and the pharmaceutical FASA, among others.
Before his own career in politics, he was no stranger to that world. His father was ambassador to the UN, he is brother to José Piñera, who was a minister during general Pinochet’s dictatorship and he was head of Hernán Büchi’s campaign in 1988, who also had a seat in Pinochet’s cabinet.
He is nephew to Bernardino Piñera, who was Temuco bishop between 1960 and 1977 and archbishop of La Serena between 1983 and 1990. He is also cousin to Andrés Chadwick, a former minister as well.
His name was in the polls even before he decided to run for a second term. When he announced his decision, Piñera was backed by all the right-wing parties and faced a primary, which he won.
The first round was supposed to be a resounding success for him, as all pollsters thought he was going to surpass the 40% mark, though he fell short and gained only 36,64%, followed by the current coalition in power’s candidate, led by president Bachelet, Mr Guillier.
The campaign on the run-up to the first round was fierce and complex. After that and sure in the knowledge that he needed to appeal to those unhappy with Bachelet’s administration, he moved to the political centre, changing -for example- his opinion about free university fees for the 60% most vulnerable.
During his first term, Mr Piñera defined Education as a “consumer good”. His view of the matter changed a week before the run-off election and stated that he “had always believed it was a public good” and that free-of-charge university should exist to some extent.
His change of mind was key to convince the opposition to pass the project that seeks, in the future, to ensure free university for all.
Mr Piñera also failed to receive the support of important international figures, but he was heavily cheered by Chilean corporate leaders.
On the other hand, Mr Guillier was backed by former Uruguayan president, José Mujica, Britain’s Jeremy Corbin, young people, the left and the centre-left, including Frente Amplio (Broad Front), Chile’s third political force, coalition that abruptly transformed the Congress’ landscape by gaining one senator and twenty representatives in the Lower House after November’s General Election.
Even though his win was unquestionable, Mr Piñera was chosen in an election in which 6.956.121 people participated -both domestically and abroad- out of the 14.308.131 eligible to cast ballots, a 48,6% of the electoral roll.