Conservative former President Sebastian Pinera has won Chile’s presidential runoff in an election that was expected to have a much closer result.
With nearly all of the ballots counted, electoral authorities said Pinera had secured 54.6 percent of the votes. His centre-left opponent, Alejandro Guillier, received 45.4 percent.
Although there were no opinion polls in the lead-up to 17 December 2017 election, analysts had expected the race to be tight as Guillier, a senator and popular TV journalist, had appeared to have gained some ground since the runoff last month.
The announcement of the win sparked scenes of jubilation at Pinera’s campaign headquarters in Chile’s capital, Santiago.
“I want to renew my commitment to all Chileans, a commitment to unity and dialogue so I invite all previous presidents to share their experience and advice with me so that we can reach national agreements to tackle our biggest problems,” Pinera told his supporters.
While Pinera, a billionaire businessman who led the country from 2010 to 2014, has been linked to several business and political scandals, his support from the business community and markets helped pushed him to victory.
“I think the general issue is that politicians are now so discredited – that people are just assume that they are liars or thieves and then choose between the lesser of two evils,” political analyst Kristen Sehnbrunch told Al Jazeera.
Sunday’s election followed a first-round win by Pinera who received 36.6 percent of the vote last month.
Guillier came second with 22.7 percent. A candidate needed 50 percent to win outright.
More than half of Chile’s eligible voters, some 6.5 million people, did not participate in the election’s first round.
Turnout has been low since mandatory voting was scrapped in 2012.