Monday, December 12, 2005

Chile set for run-off presidential election

This is the new Chile -- the Chile of democracy and free elections, not the Chile of CIA-supported dictatorship, of Pinochet and Missing.

Center-left candidate Michelle Bachelet, who leads the Concertacion bloc, which has been in power since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990, won 45.8 percent of the vote in the first round of voting in this weekend's presidential election. In Chile's two-round system, if a candidate doesn't win at least 50 percent in the first round, the top two candidates face off in a second round of voting -- which, in this case, would take place on January 15.

Two conservative candidates, Sebastian Pinera and Joaquin Lavin, finished well back in second and third place, respectively, but Lavin has thrown his support behind Pinera, and together they won 49.0 percent of the vote. Anything can happen in the second round of voting -- including increased/decreased voter turnout and swings in the electorate to and from the remaining two candidates -- but Bachelet will likely need the support of Tomas Hirsch, the communist candidate who finished in fourth place with 5.3 percent of the vote, in order to win the presidency against the right-wing bloc.

Here's hoping that happens.

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