Eduardo Frei loses Chile presidential runoff

Eduardo Frei, whose newly acquired has Swiss nationality caused a stir in Swiss circles, has failed in his bid to reclaim the Chilean presidency.

This content was published on January 18, 2010 minutes

Conservative billionaire Sebastián Piñera won the national election on Sunday, ending two decades of centre-left rule in Latin America's most stable economy and the world's top copper producer.

Piñera won with almost 52 per cent of the vote; Frei, a leftist, quickly conceded defeat. Frei held the presidency from 1994-2000.

Frei, whose father also served as president of Chile in the 1960s, announced his Swiss naturalisation in the run-up to the election. But critics have described the move of the 67-year-old as a violation of equal rights standards and an act of arbitrariness.

In Switzerland, parliamentarians from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party and the centre-left Greens accused the government of having given Frei preferential treatment, according to newspaper reports.

Senior members of two Swiss clubs in Chile are also quoted as doubting whether Frei qualified for a Swiss passport as he had never had close ties with the country of his ancestors. Frei’s grandfather came to Chile in 1905 from a small village outside St Gallen.

However, the authorities stressed the citizenship procedure was carried out according to the rules. The Federal Migration Office said Frei had "fulfilled all the conditions for re-naturalisation". and agencies

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