Chile is heading for a presidential runoff, with former President Sebastian Pinera failing to garner more than 50% of the votes in the first round of elections on Sunday.
Pinera, who was predicted to win conclusively, will face his Socialist rival Alejandro Guillier in the second round scheduled for December 17.
Low turnout was the reason for the inconclusive verdict, say analysts. According to Bloomberg, a string of allegations over illegal political funding has disillusioned many people, with politicians finding it extremely difficult to please voters.
Left-wing candidate Beatriz Sánchez has come third with 20.3% of the votes. Analysts say her supporters are more likely to back Guillier rather than Pinera in the runoff, making it difficult for the former president.
Pinera has promised to cut the corporate tax rate and reduce red tape, while Guillier wants to continue all the reforms introduced by President Michelle Bachelet.
Pinera’s previous term in office, between 2010 and 2014, was marred by a wave of student demonstrations over tuition fees and educational infrastructure. Such protests will not recur this time, as Bachelet has already introduced free education.
She also passed tax and labor reforms, although she could not pull the country out of its heavy reliance on copper mining.
Pinera has promised modifications to Bachelet’s reforms, besides vowing to have Chile join the club of developed nations within eight years. However, political pundits say Pinera’s party will less likely gain a majority in both the chambers of congress.