Millionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera seeks Chile's presidency

Sebastian Pinera, the right-wing businessman most likely to force Socialist front-runner Michelle Bachelet into a runoff after Sunday's presidential election, chose "The Locomotive" as his first political campaign slogan, a phrase that friends and foes say perfectly fits his high-energy style.

That campaign, in 1990, got him into the Senate in the first democratic election since the close of the 17-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

&to=' target=_blank>Pinera, 56, is one of Chile's richest men, and is proud of saying his fortune is entirely self-made.

He tells of his father, a civil servant and ambassador, summoning his five children to discuss their inheritance and handing each one an envelope. Pinero says his was the thickest, containing "unpaid gas and electricity bills, pending mortgage payments."

By then, Pinera had already begun to amass his fortune, launching the company that pioneered credit cards in Chile.

The charismatic Pinera graduated from the Catholic University of Santiago and earned an economics degree at Harvard. He and his wife Cecilia Morel, a family counselor, have four children.

Pinera joined the presidential race late, but has twice traveled the country from north to south in typical "locomotive" style _ a whirlwind of speeches, rallies and televised appearances _ and has risen quickly in opinion polls.

Although a candidate for the center-right National Renewal party, he's an unusual right-winger, having openly opposed the Pinochet dictatorship.

Before Pinera entered the race, Bachelet appeared assured of a clear majority on Sunday. But his appeal has grown, with a platform aimed at the middle class and the poor, including offers of pensions to housewives and incentives to small- and medium-sized enterprises.

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