Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
30th President of Chile
In office
11 March 1994 – 11 March 2000
Preceded byPatricio Aylwin
Succeeded byRicardo Lagos
Senator of the Republic of Chile
for the North Los Lagos Region
In office
11 March 2006 – 11 March 2014
Preceded byGabriel Valdés Subercaseaux
Succeeded byAlfonso de Urresti Longton
President of the Senate of Chile
In office
11 March 2006 – 11 March 2008
Preceded bySergio Romero Pizzaro
Succeeded byAdolfo Zaldívar
Senator for life
In office
11 March 2000 – 11 March 2006
Senator of the Republic of Chile
for East Santiago
In office
11 March 1990 – 11 March 1994
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMaría Elena Carrera
Personal details
Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle

(1942-06-24) 24 June 1942 (age 79)
Santiago, Chile
NationalityChilean, Swiss
Political partyChristian Democratic
(m. 1967)
RelativesCarmen Frei (Sister)
Alma materUniversity of Chile
OccupationCivil engineer

Eduardo Alfredo Juan Bernardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈðwaɾðo alˈfɾeðo ˈxwam beɾˈnaɾðo ˈfɾej rwis ˈtaɣle]; born 24 June 1942) is a Chilean politician and civil engineer who served as 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, president of Chile from 1964 to 1970.

Early life

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.

Political career

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.


See also: White Earthquake

President Frei in 1998.
President Frei in 1998.

In 1992, Frei participated in the presidential primary election of his coalition, defeating Ricardo Lagos, and then went on to win the presidential elections of 1993 by securing 58% of the votes cast.[1]

He took office on 11 March 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.[2]

Frei with Senator Andrés Zaldívar.
Frei with Senator Andrés Zaldívar.

Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, had particularly good relations with his Argentine counterpart Carlos Menem.[3] During Frei's ternure the Laguna del Desierto territorial dispute with Argentina was solved, albeit the arbitage favoured the Argentine position.[3]

Following the end of his presidency, Frei assumed, as a former President, a seat as senator-for-life in Congress.

Return to the 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 11 March 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.[4][5][6][7][8]

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.[9] 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 13 December 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, 17 January 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[10] 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."[11]

Styles, honours and arms

Presidential styles of
Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleMr. President

National honours

Foreign honours



  1. ^ 10th, Ed 2002 (2001). South America, Central America and the Caribbean 2002. Psychology Press. ISBN 9781857431216.
  2. ^ Archived 2011-01-17 at the Wayback Machine>
  3. ^ a b "La estrecha relación de Menem con Chile:Sus opositores decían que era "prochileno"". Emol (in Spanish). El Mercurio. 14 February 2021. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Swiss citizenship for Chile's Frei criticised". swissinfo. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Wird ein Schweizer Präsident von Chile?". Berner Zeitung (in German). 9 January 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
  6. ^ "¿Un suizo, el próximo Presidente de Chile?". Swissinfo (in Spanish). 12 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Schweizer Pass für Eduardo Frei". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). 12 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  8. ^ "El candidado chileno Frei tiene desde hace dos meses la nacionalidad suiza" (in Spanish). Agence France-Presse. 9 January 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2010.
  9. ^ "PREVIEW-Chile right seen ousting left in first since Pinochet". Reuters. 9 December 2009.
  10. ^ Gardner, Simon (17 January 2010). "Chile's Frei concedes defeat to Pinera in vote". Reuters.
  11. ^ China Daily Billionaire Sebastian Pinera wins Chile presidency
  12. ^ "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang, dan Pingat Persekutuan".
  13. ^ Royal Decree 334/1995. Spanish Official Journal
  14. ^ Club de Madrid is an independent non-profit organization created to promote “Democracy that Delivers”. It is composed of more than 100 Members, all democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world.
  15. ^ "Resolución N° 709/996". Retrieved 27 November 2020.
Political offices Preceded byPatricio Aylwin President of Chile 1994-2000 Succeeded byRicardo Lagos Preceded bySergio Romero President of the Senate of Chile 2006-2008 Succeeded byAdolfo Zaldívar Party political offices Preceded byAndrés Zaldívar Christian Democrat Party President 1991-1993 Succeeded byGutenberg Martínez