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Sebastian Pinera expected to return to the Chilean presidency after brief hiatus

Sebastian Pinera Chile election

Photo: ATON

Today, voters in Chile will elect a new president to succeed outgoing leader Michelle Bachelet. Also up for grabs are 155 seats in Chile’s lower house and 23 seats in the Senate.

Former President Sebastian Pinera (2010-2014), of the Vamos Chile party, is widely expected to win today’s election, although it’s unlikely the centre-right candidate will secure the 50% of the vote needed to avoid a December 17 runoff. Pinera will likely face Alejandro Guillier, of Bachelet’s New Majority coalition, if runoffs are necessary.

Whoever is elected Chile’s next president will have to grapple with a struggling economy. The global commodity slump has resulted in a downturn in copper prices, plunging the value of Chile’s exports by some 25% over the past three years. This has led to an increase in the country’s budget deficit, which is expected to top 3% of GDP this year.

Pinera’s proposed solution to the debt problem is to cut corporate taxes and public spending. While such policies may see an upturn in economic growth, expect public support for them to diminish as social reforms are put to the side.

Delve deeper: Chile’s presidential election: The resurgence of Pinera

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