Allende's involvement in Chilean political life spanned a period of nearly forty years. As a member of the Socialist Party, he was a senator, deputy and cabinet minister. He unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in the 1952, 1958, and 1964 elections. In 1970, he won the presidency in a close three-way race, formally elected by Congress as no candidate had gained a majority.
Allende adopted the policy of nationalization of industries and collectivization. On 11 September 1973 the military, citing a call by the Chilean Congress to end his presidency, staged a coup against Allende. As the armed forces surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende gave his last speech vowing not to resign, and then died in circumstances that are unclear. After Allende's death, Chile was led by a military junta beginning a dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet.