CHURCH and government leaders have hailed the decisive election victory of the moderate Eduardo Frei over the Marxist Salvador Allende in Chile's presidential election.
Final returns gave Frei 58 per cent of the total vote to 37 per cent for Allende, a confessed admirer of Cuba's Fidel Castro. The election was peaceful.
After the vote-counting, Frei said the victory "isn't so much a victory of a political party or of a presidential candidate. It is a victory of the faith and hope of a people who would not he defeated by despair, misery and injustice, and who chose to believe that man can he helped without being enslaved.
"We will triumph," he said, "only when we have shown ourselves worthy of this faith and hope, when we prove that there exists within our Christian tradition of respect for human dignity a creative power capable of producing profound changes which the present hour demands of us."
The Catholic Church in Chile took no official position during the election, urging only that each citizen vote according to his conscience. Afterwards, Cardinal Silva of Santiago commented: "We put our confidence in the Chilean people and they responded completely."
Senator Hugo Zepeda, President of the Chilean Senate and head of Chile's Liberal Party, declared: "The Chilean people, between liberty and slavery have chosen liberty, between cruelty and human understanding have preferred understanding, and between lies and the truth have maintained their devotion to the truth."
Frei said at his first news conference after the election that one of the principal aims of his administration would be to promote and protect family life.