Chile′s right gains in bellwether local elections | News | DW | 24.10.2016
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Chile's right gains in bellwether local elections

Chile's right-leaning opposition has inched ahead in Sunday's local elections, considered a bellwether for next year's presidential poll. The results follow a trend in Latin America of voters moving away from the left.

Chile's right-wing opposition looked poised to pick up dozens of mayoralties in Sunday's local elections, a sign the country is moving away from leftist politics alongside other countries in Latin America ahead of next year's presidential poll.

With about 96 percent of the vote counted, the right-leaning Chile Vamos coalition had 38.53 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of President Michelle Bachelet's left-leaning Nueva Mayoria coalition with 37.07 percent. Independent parties also appeared to perform well.

The results were viewed as a boost to Sebastian Pinera, a businessman who served as president from 2010 to 2014. He is believed to be a front-runner for the conservatives in next year's polls.

"Sebastian Pinera is going to sleep with the presidential sash on tonight," tweeted Patricio Navia, a political scientist at New York University and Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago. "What a beating for the Nueva Mayoria."

Bachelet, constitutionally barred from seeking re-election in 2017, has seen her reputation marred by corruption scandals and a weakening economy that has drained her support, now at just 23 percent.

Responding to the results, she said it was a message to her coalition ahead of next year's election.

"We are going to redouble our efforts to respond to the demands and dreams of our citizens ... this is a very serious message, not just for our coalition but all political leaders in the country," said Bachelet, who served as president from 2006 to 2010 and returned in 2014.

The electoral results come as left-leaning parties that came to power across Latin America over the past decade have been recently cast aside in favor of conservatives, including in neighboring Argentina and Peru.

cw/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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