SANTIAGO – Chilean conservative candidate Sebastian Piñera said on Monday that he will call on voters of the social center for their support in order to win the second round of the presidential election against ruling party candidate Alejandro Guillier.
The former president came out ahead in Sunday’s election with 36.6 percent of the vote – though voter turnout was poor, with less than 47 percent of the electorate showing up at the polls.
Piñera told foreign correspondents that his campaign strategy for the December 17 runoff will not make an abrupt turn to capture extremist voters.
“Our candidacy will not swerve to the far right or far left – we’ll keep appealing to the social center,” the conservative hopeful said.
Piñera noted that the social center is not the traditional political center, but rather a deeper concept with social aspects.
“It’s moderation and common sense for Chileans who want unity and not division, who want Chile to go forward again and remain static no longer. It’s civic friendship and a better sense of community,” he said.
Piñera estimated that Sunday’s election reflected a support for his candidacy of 44.6 percent, considering that the 7.9 percent who voted for far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast will most probably switch to him in the runoff.
In fact, Kast announced Sunday night his support for Piñera, which analysts have interpreted as meaning the former president might make a wink to the hardline right to pick up some votes.
Piñera, however, said that Kast had offered his support “unconditionally.”
The candidate said he was always convinced that the first round election results would be close, though the latest surveys before the ballots were cast predicted a fairly easy win.
“The surveys overestimated our result and many thought things would be different,” Piñera said, adding that from the beginning his team avoided “any kind of over-confidence or arrogance.”
“I’m sure the second round will also be a tight, hard-fought race. But I believe we’re going to win because we’ll make a great effort to listen closely and carefully to the get the message about what most Chileans want,” he said.
Piñera said that on Dec. 17, Chile will face a “crossroads” of two programs for the country, both with the same starting point but traveling different roads with opposite goals.
In the social and economic spheres, Piñera promised “to regain the ability to grow,” create new and better jobs, and reform education.
“We represent unity and not division, the culture of dialogue and agreements, and not the perverse logic of the retro excavator,” digging into what’s already behind us, he said.