January 5, 2017 / 1:24 PM / 7 months ago

Tight Chile presidential race seen between ex-president, independent senator

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Former president Sebastian Pinera (C) from Chile, Lilian Tintori (R), wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, and opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speak during a meeting with representatives of the Venezuelan opposition in Caracas January 26, 2015.Carlos Garcia Rawlins

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chilean former President Sebastian Pinera and independent centre-left Senator Alejandro Guillier have consolidated themselves as the favourites to go head-to-head in the November general presidential election, a new poll showed on Thursday.

Asked who they would vote for if the elections were held on Sunday, 29 percent of survey respondents pointed to conservative billionaire Pinera, while 26 percent favoured journalist-turned-politician Guillier, the poll run by Gfk Adimark said.

Both are widely expected to announce their presidential bids in coming months.

The three percentage-point spread between them is equivalent to the margin of error in the poll, which surveyed 1,052 people between Dec. 2 and 28.

All other politicians who the respondents mentioned trailed by at least 20 percentage points, according to the poll.

Guillier was a relative unknown in Chile until recently, but far-reaching money-in-politics graft scandals, as well as a sluggish economy, have brought disenchantment with politics as usual, boosting outsiders.

Another recent poll showed Guillier winning by 5 points against Pinera if neither received the 50 percent of the votes needed to avoid a runoff.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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