Chile’s Bachelet vs. Pinera To Face Off In Pivotal Presidential Run-Off

Chile has had major changes in the past few years but between left-leaning President Michelle Bachelet and conservative rival Sebastian Pinera its left is still more left.

The Chilean presidential elections will go to a run-off between Socialist President Michelle Bachelet and Conservative opponent Sebastian Pinera next month.

Bachelet officially resigned after serving her maximum four-year term, but Pinera said he would run again as president. He’s spent the past months campaigning to raise political capital following the HSBC graft scandal.

The pair will face off on Feb. 27, with each seeking support from different sectors.

Bachelet is a longtime feminist and surgeon who seized on Chile’s long-running dictatorship in the 1980s to promote health and social programs that helped lift millions of citizens out of poverty.

But as the economy sputtered and her ambitious plan to boost domestic investment stalled, Bachelet’s approval ratings slid to single digits, forcing her into another three years in office. Her popularity surged shortly after announcing in September that she wouldn’t seek re-election.

Bachelet’s running mate is Martin Vizcarra, a left-leaning former governor who served in Congress after a stint as prime minister. Vizcarra and Bachelet were in a strong position to win, since neither is likely to secure more than 50 percent of the vote, and they will face Pinera and his running mate, the center-right former Senate president, Beatriz Sanchez.

Pinera has refused to play by Chile’s unwritten rules and is vowing to make changes that some in his own party consider too dramatic. His conservative coalition, meanwhile, is gaining in size and political capital in recent weeks with the continued fallout from the HSBC Bank scandal, which resulted in nine executives being charged with money laundering in a deal with U.S. prosecutors.

A former billionaire who has served twice as president before, Pinera touts himself as the responsible leader Chile needs.

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