Chile holds unique presidential, parliamentarian elections

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-20 06:11:18|Editor: pengying
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Image provided by Chile's Presidency shows that Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (R) casts her ballot during the presidential elections at a polling station in Santiago, capital of Chile, on Nov. 19, 2017. (Xinhua)

SANTIAGO, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chileans are voting Sunday for their president from eight candidates, as well as electing the Chamber of Deputies and part of the Senate.

These elections in Chile, however, are not being dominated by the usual two leading parties of the center-left and right. The 2017 election stands out due to the sheer diversity of presidential candidates.

However, of the eight, the favorite is former president Sebastian Pinera, from the right-wing Chile Vamos (Let's Go Chile). It is expected he will go through to a second round against Alejandro Guillier, from the left-wing New Majority coalition.

When voting in Santiago, President Michelle Bachelet, who is not running for re-election, said "today is a very special day, a civic day, where all our compatriots can ensure their voice makes sense. They have a right to elect who they want to represent them from March 2018."

Sunday's elections are also unique, because of new electoral rules, which will lead to a new political landscape in the Latin American country.

In a country with very high abstention rates of late (65 percent participation in the 2013 local elections), there were fears this election would see a similar event. However, on Sunday morning, thousands were turning out at the polls.

New political rules are also hoped to break the dominance of the traditional parties. One major change could come with the rise of Frente Amplio (Broad Front), which is made up of left-wing parties who want to expand the political landscape and begin a new development model.

This election sees the start of a new proportional vote, which is likely to favor a greater diversity of parties in parliament, meaning more negotiations are likely to form a government.

Both chambers of Congress are also now under a new law, stating that neither men nor women can account for more than 60 percent of candidates. This has led to a slew of female candidates, accounting for almost 33 percent in this election.

President Bachelet, of the Socialist Party of Chile (PS), has suffered in the polls after her taxation, labor and education reforms, as well as the decriminalization of abortion, have proved divisive.

Guillier is representing the PS as well as three other left-wing groups. Hoping to overcome Pinera's lead in the polls, he said on Sunday that "the country is giving its opinion and the vote is the key to all democracy in all countries in the world. I hope it is a clean, transparent, very participative day and that what is at play is the good of the country."

For his part, Pinera, upon voting in Santiago, said that "in democracy, all must have the opportunity to freely express their opinion, without resorting to violence."

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