14 Dec 2009

Pinera leads Chile's presidential poll

9:15 pm on 14 December 2009

Results from Chile's presidential election suggest the centre-right candidate, billionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera, has won the first round of voting but not an outright majority.

Reuters reports that Mr Pinera leads by a wide margin, making him the favourite to win a run-off and oust the leftist bloc that has ruled for the two decades since General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship ended.

An official vote count of about 60% of polling stations shows the Harvard-educated businessman winning just over 44% of the votes, against 31% for ruling coalition candidate and ex-president, Eduardo Frei.

They now go to a second election in mid-January since no one in the four-way race received more than 50% of the vote.

A Pinera victory would mark a shift to the right but reports say he is not expected to overhaul the economic policies that have made Chile a model of stability.