Chileans on Sunday gave former President Sebastián Piñera a new term in office, rejecting his opponent’s call to build on the social and economic changes set in motion by the incumbent, Michelle Bachelet. Mr. Piñera’s victory marks the latest shift to the right in a region that until recently was largely governed by leftist leaders who rose to power promising to build more egalitarian societies. Mr. Piñera vowed on Sunday night to govern for all Chileans. “Chile needs dialogue and collaboration more than confrontation,” he said after a cordial televised meeting with his opponent, Alejandro Guillier.
The decisive 9-point victory, which came as a surprise because recent polls had suggested the race was a tossup, showed that millions of Chileans saw Mr. Piñera as best suited to jump-start economic growth and to set the tone for contentious social debates. Among them is one over a same-sex marriage bill before Congress.
Celebrations erupted on the streets and in Mr. Piñera’s campaign headquarters a couple of hours after polls closed.
Congratulating Mr. Piñera for what he described as a “solid victory,” Mr. Guillier called on his followers to learn the lessons from his defeat. He said they should listen more to constituents, renew political leadership and draw closer to social movements.