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Chile Elections Boost Government Reforms

VICTORY by government-backed candidates in municipal elections has boosted President Patricio Aylwin Azocar's campaign to rid Chile of the vestiges of the Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte regime.

The National Renewal, the largest right-wing opposition party, said after Sunday's elections that it would discuss President Aylwin's proposed reforms.

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But another major opposition group, Independent National Union, remained adamant in its rejection of the changes.

With 6.5 million of 7.8 million ballots counted, pro-government candidates had 53 percent of the total seats and the right-wing opposition had 30 percent. The voting was for 2,082 mayors and council members in 334 towns.

It was the first direct municipal election since 1971.

"The returns show that Chile does not want to move back to conservative attitudes, but to continue to move ahead toward a wider political democracy," Aylwin said Sunday.

The results have encouraged the government to renew its pressures on the opposition, which has a majority in the Senate, to pass the reforms.

Aylwin wants to drop a clause in the 1990 Constitution that prevents him from firing military commanders. General Pinochet, whose government wrote the 1990 document before surrendering power, gave up the presidency but remained Army chief.

Aylwin also wants to eliminate eight appointed Senate seats and reform the National Security Council.

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