Chile’s new President

Wealthy businessman Sebastián Piñera narrowly defeated Eduardo Frei, candidate of the centre-left Concertación coalition, in last Sunday’s run-off election. A Financial Times editorialist acknowledges “Chile’s democracy has solidified”, but warns that the conservative Mr Piñera may not be the best choice for Chile’s economy.

Concertación can be proud of its economic record. Chile has enjoyed solid economic growth in all but two years since Pinochet’s ouster. ….

These will be hard acts for Mr Piñera to follow. … [H]e promises to create 1m jobs and to raise the growth rate to 6 per cent from 4 per cent over the last decade [but this] higher growth rate must not come at the expense of the poor. ….

Mr Piñera’s private interests … remain a source of concern. Unless he relinquishes control of his corporate empire and avoids giving business connections political influence, he may paradoxically be worse for Chile’s economy than the country’s pragmatic left.

“A change for Chile”, Financial Times, 19 January 2010.


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