World
New Chilean president elected
  • The Statesman
  • 16 Dec 2013
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Agence France-Presse
Santiago, 16 December
Socialist Michelle Bachelet was swept back into office as Chile's next president, electoral officials said, as her rival recognised the win.
Ms Bachelet, 62, would take office on 11 March to succeed conservative billionaire President Sebastian Pinera. She had served as Chile's first woman president back in 2006.
“It is clear at this point. She won. And we congratulate her. Later on, I will go speak with her personally,” rival Evelyn Matthei told reporters.
The national electoral board said Bachelet earned 62.59 per cent of the vote against Ms Matthei's 37.40 per cent, with 56 per cent of votes tallied.
Ms Bachelet's contest with Ms Matthei marked the first time in Latin America that a presidential run-off was held between two women.
More than 13 million Chileans were eligible to vote yesterday, but this year's race marked the first time that voting in a presidential election was voluntary in Chile.
In the first round, which resulted with Ms Bachelet winning 47 per cent of the vote to 25 per cent for Ms Matthei, more than 50 per cent of voters did not bother to cast ballots.
Ms Ms Bachelet has focused on greater social justice in a country that has the highest per capita income of any Latin American country. She has proposed increasing taxes to raise $8.2 billion for the state coffers. She wants everyone, not just the rich, to have access to free post-secondary education.
Ms Bachelet also hopes to quickly move on sweeping reforms that most Chileans want, which include overhauling the constitution, a legacy of the era of dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
She plans to bring Chile in line with a wave of social liberalism sweeping once conservative Latin America, which include legalizing abortion and opening discussions on same-sex marriage.
During her first term, Ms Bachelet reformed the pension system, improved health and social services, and focused on the well-being of Chile's working class and elderly. Her presidency coincided wit a boom in global demand for copper, Chile's top export.
 

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