Rivals neck and neck in Chile poll

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The Independent Online
AFTER THE closest election in Chile's history, campaigning resumed yesterday in a drive to reach the 800,000 voters who abstained in Sunday's ballot.

A surge of support for theright-wing populist Joaquin Lavin sent the presidential poll into a run-off in mid-January. The leftist coalition candidate Ricardo Lagos won 47.96 per cent of the vote, to Mr Lavin's 47.57 per cent.

Demonstrators from both sides took to the streets in peaceful celebration, although none of the six candidates won a simple majority. But the unexpectedly strong showing by the conservatives - they trailed by just 31,027 votes out of the seven million cast - means that Mr Lavin now aspires to be more than a spoiler. The race to replace the outgoing president, Eduardo Frei, in March has become a genuine contest.