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Presidential Elections in Chile and Honduras

On November 19, 2017, Chileans went to the polls to select a new president and national legislators, and the polls indicated that former President Sebastián Piñera, the candidate of the center right, was the clear front runner. Yet Piñera, who governed Chile from 2010 to 2014, came in seven percentage points short of where forecasts predicted he would be. His chief opponent, left-of-center Senator Alejandro Guillier, backed by outgoing President Michelle Bachelet did better than expected. But the most surprising outcome was the performance of farther-left leaning Frente Amplio candidate Beatriz Sánchez, who won twice as many votes as forecasters predicted, and whose support could be decisive in the December runoff. On November 26, Hondurans also voted for president, and as the results showed the opposition’s Salvador Nasralla leading the race by five points ahead of incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández, reporting on the official count was suspended. Thirty-six hours later, Honduras’ Tribuno Supremo Electoral (TSE), which is closely connected to the right-wing Hernández government, reported a new trend giving the president a narrow lead. Thousands of Hondurans flooded the streets in protest and were met by police with tear gas and live rounds, wounding dozens and killing at least one demonstrator. Both elections belied the generally accepted press narrative that left-leaning political movements are in decline around the region.

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