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Pinera Maintains Lead for Chilean Presidential Election, Pollster Says

Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera of the Chile Vamos (Let's Go Chile) coalition participates in a live televised debate in Valparaiso, Chile, Sept. 28, 2017.

Chile's conservative presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera has consolidated a strong lead in polls for the November presidential election, a survey by pollster CERC Mori showed Tuesday.

The poll showed that Pinera, a former president, would win 44 percent of the vote in the first round on November 19, up from 35 percent in CERC Mori's previous poll released in early July.

Alejandro Guillier, a center-left senator, would take 30 percent in the first round, the poll said, while hard-left candidate Beatriz Sanchez would take 11 percent.

CERC Mori said it was not able to accurately estimate voting intentions for a possible second round, which would be required if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

With six presidential candidates from the left, there is a possibility of a broad alliance in a second round against the right-wing Pinera.

At present, however, there is no sign of such an alliance forming, according to Marta Lagos, director of CERC Mori.

"If a movement forms against Pinera, then someone could emerge as a leader. The point is that this movement does not exist and nor does the leadership," she said at a news conference.

Other polls have suggested that a runoff vote would likely be much closer than the first round, but that Pinera would most likely prevail.

A win by Pinera, who served as president of the copper-producing country between 2010 and 2014, would be welcomed by the Chilean business community, which accuses current President Michelle Bachelet and her center-left coalition of stoking market uncertainty in one of Latin America's most free-market economies.

But it would disappoint Bachelet's base, as well as a younger generation of Chileans who are demanding deep changes to the structure of the country's politics and economics.