Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro announces new allies to challenge opposition as US imposes sanctions


The run-off race between leftist Beatriz Sanchez and centrist Sebastian Pinera, scheduled for 14 October, could be remembered as the polar opposite of the Costa Rica presidential election four years ago.

In that contest, one candidate, the former central bank chief Luis Guillermo Solis, and the other, conservative Johnny Araya, talked down to their opponents. But in the end it was the figures of Mr Araya, then trailing former president Michelle Bachelet by a margin of 20 percentage points, that collapsed in the face of Ms Bachelet’s positive campaigning and her young supporters’ enthusiastic support.

This time around Ms Sanchez’s challenge is rooted in the mix of left and right, of having a fusion with the former ruling coalition and the financial success of the wealthy businessman Mr Pinera. He was once hailed as “Chilean Reagan”, a popular figure who was popular among Chilean business leaders and supported by former leftwing president Eduardo Frei.

His defeat of Ms Bachelet in 2009 is a notable moment for Chile, showing how the booming commodities boom could channel resources to the nation.

Mr Pinera, for his part, has pledged to bring back many of the decisions taken by former president Sebastian Piñera, who served two terms until 2014.

That included privatising state industries, raising taxes on companies’ income and paying down debt.

Yet in the first round of voting, Mr Pinera failed to win more than 50% of the votes. So he will have to overcome his party’s divisions and a voter splintering away from the same party, the hardline National Coalition for Virtue and Quality, to defeat Ms Sanchez.

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