Chile Elects A Conservative President

Ray Walser /

On January 17, voters in Chile’s presidential run-off selected conservative Sebastián Piñera to become their next chief executive. The win for Piñera ended the 20-year hold on the presidency exercised by the center-left Concertación coalition and made Piñera Chile’s first elected conservative president in 52 years. Piñera, a billionaire businessman and leader of the Coalition for Change, successfully managed to ward off negative campaigning by former president Eduardo Frei, who tried to link Piñera to the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Piñera captured an estimated 52% of the vote in the country of 16.8 million.

The new Chilean president vows to become an “entrepreneurial” leader and has already set his sights on restoring a healthy six per cent growth rate, lowering taxes, and improving government efficiency while pursuing programs to reduce poverty and inequality. Unlike countries under populist’s presidents offering promises rather than performance, Chile has significantly reduced poverty, lowering it in the last two decades from 40 percent to 13.7 percent.

Piñera will be able to build on the solid foundation of Chile’s prudent macroeconomic strategies. As a trading nation, Chile has responded to the dynamics of global competition by negotiating 21 trade agreement s with 51 nations, including the U.S. Chile moreover imports $4 billion more in U.S. exports than it exports to the U.S., creating tens of thousands of badly needed U.S. jobs. The 2009 Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s Index of Economic Freedom judged Chile to have the 11th freest economy in the world.