The ruling coalition's candidate Eduardo Frei conceded defeat Sunday after 60 percent of polling stations reported a 52 percent to 48 percent advantage for Pinera, ending two decades of center-left rule since the end of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.
"We will be guardians of liberty and of all our social victories," Frei said.
Pinera had a wide lead in every poll, and the race only tightened after Frei and outgoing President Michelle Bachelet repeatedly invoked the legacy of Pinochet, whose dictatorship was supported by parties that make up Pinera's coalition.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – Billionaire Sebastian Pinera held a wide lead over the ruling party's Eduardo Frei with most votes counted in Chile's election Sunday, a trend that could make him the nation's first democratically elected right-wing president in 52 years.
With 60 percent of polling stations reporting nationwide, Pinera has 52 percent to 48 percent for Frei, a former president who represents the center-left coalition that has governed Chile for 20 years since the end of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.
The initial results brought gloom over the ruling coalition's election headquarters, and Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma said "the trend is irreversible."
Pinera had a wide lead in every poll, and the race only tightened after Frei and outgoing President Michelle Bachelet repeatedly invoked the legacy of Pinochet, whose dictatorship was supported by the parties that make up Pinera's coalition.
But many leftists have become disenchanted after two decades with the same group of politicians in power, and Frei's effort to raise fears of a retreat on human rights may not have persuaded enough of them to turn out on Sunday.
Pinera, a Harvard-trained economist, focused his campaign on hopes for change, promising to create a million jobs and double Chile's per-capita income of $12,000 a year by expanding the country's growth to 6 percent a year.
Pinochetistas aka the true face of the Chilean right aka who's gonna be in charge now:
I am so angry. FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUU. Pinera claims he was "always against Pinochet" but that is a lie. And even if he is telling the truth, exactly one half of his ~Coalition for Change~ (the UDI) is a quasi-fascist Pinochet apologist party. Ugh. He made all of these absolutely ridiculous campaign promises (like 1 million jobs in FOUR YEARS--lol that's not gonna happen) and, like David Cameron in England, is basically the "nice" face of an unchanged (from the times of Pinochet) right wing.
Also, this popped up on my twitter feed: "en las calles se escucha un potente chi chi le le! viva Chile y Pinochet!"/"in the streets there are people yelling "Long live Chile and Pinochet" (rough translation) WHAT THE FUCK!?