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Dec
17

Former leader of Chile Sebastian Pinera returns to office after beating left-wing opponent 

Former leader of Chile Sebastian Pinera returns to office after beating left-wing opponent Former Chilean leader Sebastian Pinera on Sunday night became president elect for the second time after comfortably winning an election that was expected to came down to the wire. Mr Pinera, a conservative billionaire businessman who held office between 2010 and 2014, beat Alejandro Guillier, a journalist turned politician from the centre left.  With more than 90 percent of the vote in, Mr Guillier congratulated his opponent while conceding defeat with 45.4 percent of the vote to Pinera's 54.5 percent. “My rival knew how to adopt our flags,” Guillier said. “Chile has changed and that change is forever. But we have to be self-critical; we have received a hard defeat.” It was a defeat for Guillier  Credit: Claudio Reyes /AFP The 68-year-old's victory provides a mandate to reverse four years of economic and political reform put in place by President Michelle Bachelet whose previously popular presidency fell under a cloud when her daughter in law became embroiled in a corruption scandal in 2015. Both candidates promised to keep in place Chile's longstanding free-market economic model, but Pinera has promised lower taxes to boost growth  and create 600,000 jobs, ease industry regulations and narrow the budget deficit. Guillier wanted the government to press on with Bachelet's overhaul of education, taxes and labor. On Sunday evening, supporters gathered to celebrate Pinera's win at his Santiago campaign headquarters. The win signals the country's shift to the right in line with other Latin American nations in recent years. A decade ago, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela were all governed by left-wing leaders. But in recent years, conservatives have come to power in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay and Venezuela.