- Title: CHILE: Presidential candidates wrap up campaigns
- Date: 11th December 2009
- Summary: CONCEPCION, CHILE (DECEMBER 10, 2009) (REUTERS) SUPPORTERS OF CANDIDATE EDUARDO FREI HOLDING BANNERS AT AT RALLY PERFORMER SINGING AT RALLY
- Embargoed: 26th December 2009 12:00
- Location: Chile
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAET1L6JIU0SY45QBQYCNZYT3HR
- Story Text: Chilean presidential candidates Sebastian Pinera Marco and Eduardo Frei held the closing rallies of their political campaigns late on Thursday (December 10), ahead of Sunday elections in which the right is expected to lead.
Thousands turned up for the rally of National Renewal Party candidate Sebastian Pinera who is expected to lead on Sunday and would then face a January run-off. A victory by the conservative billionaire would end 20 years of center-left rule in Latin America's most stable economy.
Waving banners and dancing in the summer sun, supporters turned out to see Pinera who vows to pull Chile out of its recession by creating a million jobs and boosting growth through tax incentives and labor sector reforms.
Although his election would mark a shift to the right, few see major changes to the policies that propelled the economy of the world's Number 1 copper producer.
He openly admitted to supporters that there was much he liked about the administrations that have led Chile for the past 20 years.
"There's no doubt that the Concertacion administrations have done good things and we've always, always, been willing to admit that and support them. But, at the same time and with the same strength and clarity, I want to tell all Chileans that the Concertacion's time is past," he said.
Pinera, the runner-up in Chile's last election, is seen as likely to take the most votes out of a field of four candidates with former president Eduardo Frei likely to come in second.
In Concepcion, 500 kilometres south of the capital of Santiago, Frei wrapped up his campaign.
Flanked by top politicians, the 67-year-old center-leftist pledges to continue the current social programs.
"Yes, I'm in this fight because I believe in my values, I believe in the values that I was raised with in my home and I will never quit and will continue working for Chile and for its people," he said with his family standing at his side.
Frei was president from 1994 to 2000 and oversaw rising unemployment during the Asia Crisis.
Independent candidate Marco Enriquez-Ominami, who is in favor of gay marriage and abortion, is polling third and has split the left's vote, endangering Frei's chances.
Unless one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday-- which is not expected-- the two front runners will head to a second round on January 17. The run-off is expected to be a close race, although polls show Pinera with an edge.
The political right has not won an election for 50 years in Chile, the country with Latin America's highest standard of living according to the Human Development Index.
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