|Intro||Chilean politician and former President|
|A.K.A.||Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle|
|Is||Engineer Civil engineer Politician|
|Birth||24 June 1942, Santiago, Chile|
|Politics||Christian Democratic Party|
Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle ([eˈðwaɾðo alˈfɾeðo ˈxwan βeɾˈnaɾðo ˈfɾej ˈrwis ˈtaɣle]; born June 24, 1942) is a Chilean politician and civil engineer who was President of Chile from 1994 to 2000. He was also a Senator, fulfilling the role of President of the Senate from 2006 to 2008. He attempted a comeback as the candidate of the ruling Concertación coalition for the 2009 presidential election, but was narrowly defeated. His father was Eduardo Frei Montalva, who was President of Chile from 1964 to 1970.
Frei was born in Santiago to Eduardo Frei Montalva and María Ruiz-Tagle Jiménez. He received all his schooling at the Luis Campino Institute. He then attended the University of Chile, where he graduated as a civil engineer, specializing in hydraulics. After graduation, he followed advanced courses in management in Italy.
Frei took his first steps in politics while at the university, where he was a student leader. In 1958, he joined the Christian Democrat party, and in 1964 participated actively in his father's successful presidential campaign. Between 1969 and 1988 he concentrated on his profession, as one of the partners of Sigdo Koppers S.A., the largest engineering company in Chile.
In 1988 Frei founded and promoted the Comité Pro Elecciones Libres ("Committee for the promotion of free elections"). In 1989, he was elected Senator for Santiago, obtaining the highest number of votes in the whole country. In the Senate, he presided over the Treasury and Budget Commission and was a member of the Housing Commission.
In 1992, Frei participated in the primary presidential elections of his coalition, defeating Ricardo Lagos, and then went on to win the presidential elections of 1993 by securing 58% of the votes cast. He took office on March 11, 1994 and was succeeded by Lagos in 2000. Frei's presidency was notable in making improvements in health and education as well as reducing poverty. Following the end of his presidency, Frei assumed, as a former President, a seat as senator-for-life in Congress. Since constitutional reforms in 2005 abolished life senators from 2006, Frei ran for and won an elected Senate seat in the December 2005 parliamentary elections in the electoral district of Valdivia Province and Osorno Province, together with Andrés Allamand. On March 11, 2006 Frei became President of the Senate, like his father, who was also President of the Senate after being President of the Republic.
Frei, whose grandfather Eduardo Frei Schlinz had emigrated to Chile from Switzerland, obtained Swiss citizenship in February 2009.
In 2009-2010 elections, Frei ran for the presidency of Chile for a second time, again as the candidate of the centre-left Concertación center-coalition, promising continuity of the popular outgoing President Michelle Bachelet's path. Some of his presidential campaign banners and billboards pictured him, accompanied by Bachelet over his left shoulder. In the first round of the elections, held on December 13, 2009, Frei held 29.60% of the official vote, second to his opponent Sebastián Piñera, who led with 44.05%. Since neither candidate received more than half of the total votes, a runoff election was held on Sunday, January 17, 2010. The first preliminary results announced by the Deputy Interior Ministry at 21:00 GMT on election day gave Piñera 51.87% and Frei holding 48.12%. Frei conceded to Piñera at 21:44 GMT.
In a graceful exit from the campaign, Frei stated,
"The election is over and Chileans have shown civic maturity.... The results clearly show the solidity of our democracy. It has been clean and transparent in line with our tradition. I want to congratulate Pinera, to whom most Chileans have given their trust for the next four years."
Honours and awards
- Peru : Commander of the Order of the Sun (Peru)
- Italy : Knight Grand Cross with Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, July 19, 1995
- Croatia : Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav ("For outstanding achievements in promoting the development of friendship and fruitful cooperation in political, cultural and economic development between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Chile, and in promoting peace, democracy, stability and international cooperation in the world on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter and the provisions of international law." - November 8, 1994)
- Malaysia : Honorary Recipient of the Order of the Crown of the Realm (1995)
- Poland : Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
- Spain : Knight Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic, March 3, 1995
- Spain : Member of the Club de Madrid, an independent non-profit organization created to promote democracy and change in the international community, composed by more than 100 members: former democratic Heads of State and Government from around the world.