The Latest: Ex-President Pinera leads in Chile vote count

SANTIAGO, Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The latest on Chile’s presidential runoff election (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

Billionaire Sebastian Pinera has the lead in Chile’s presidential runoff election, with just under half the votes counted.

Officials say the former president has just over 54 percent of the votes to nearly 46 percent for center-left Sen. Alejandro Guillier.

Analysts had predicted a closer race, but there had not been any opinion polls on the election for several weeks.

The early results prompted Pinera supporters to celebrate at the campaign headquarters.

Pinera won last month’s first round, but his 36.6 percent vote share fell far short of what polls had projected. Guillier got 22.7 percent in the first round and was counting on support from backers of other left-leaning candidates who were eliminated.

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6:30 p.m.

Polls have closed for what is expected to be a tight Chilean presidential runoff election that will decide if the world’s top copper-producing nation swings to the right or maintains its center-left path.

Voters chose between conservative billionaire and former President Sebastian Pinera and Sen. Alejandro Guillier, a center-left former journalist.

Pinera won last month’s first round, but his 36.6 percent vote share fell far short of what polls had projected.

Guillier who got 22.7 percent in the first round and counted on support from backers of other left-leaning candidates who were eliminated.

Chile’s 30,000 voting stations closed at 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT). The first results are expected around 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT).

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