Daniele Schacht: An innovative poll shows controversial Chile presidential hopeful taking 3rd place in election

A provocative right-wing candidate in Chile who is pledging to “restore the sovereignty of Chile” has taken a decisive lead over the center-left contenders in a proposed presidential runoff, according to a poll released Monday.

Ivan Alvarez, a wealthy construction magnate backed by the Copinh party of President Sebastian Pinera, captured 30 percent of the first-round vote in the Nov. 20 election. The poll showed the former soldier would be the first right-wing president in two decades.

“The center left thought they had a good chance for the presidency with Nicolas Elvan,” said Adolfo Coniglio, president of the Copinh party. “All the polls in the last few weeks showed that they were heading for 40 percent of the vote.”

Elvan, a former Coca-Cola executive, collected 28 percent of the first-round vote. He formally launched his campaign on Oct. 26, just 15 days before the election.

Gonzalo Sgarra, a Jesuit priest who is the pastor of a parish in Santiago’s Lumière neighborhood, which is dominated by the left, received 22 percent of the vote.

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Ivan, 51, said his policies will concentrate on reducing economic inequality.

“I promise that I’ll govern in the image of my father,” he said, referring to Santiago’s resident Ivan Mejia. The patriarch was a retired school principal. “He lives in his community. I want the country of my father to live in my community.”

Indigenous leaders and mayors in Moreno’s administration have accused Alvarez of being a Nazi sympathizer, and it’s likely to be an issue in the runoff. He said he is not aware of any Nazis in Chile.

“I’m not a Nazi. But if it’s necessary for me to be, I will not hide my background,” he said.

Alvarez is showing the right can regain political gains lost by the former president Pinera after he was toppled in the 2014 election.

The poll by Santiago’s Ipsos also showed the leader of Moreno’s bloc, Orlando Di Tommaso, got 13 percent of the vote. He was followed by Soledad Andrés Ledezma, a former mayor of Santiago, with 11 percent, and Mauricio Macri, a right-wing mayor of Bariloche, with 10 percent.

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