Bachelet wins Chilean presidential election

Tuesday 17 December 2013 00.13
Michelle Bachelet won with a record proportion of the vote
Michelle Bachelet won with a record proportion of the vote

Michelle Bachelet was elected as Chile's President last night in a landslide victory that hands the centre-left leader the mandate she sought to push ahead with wide-reaching reforms.

Ms Bachelet won with about 62% support, the highest proportion of votes any presidential candidate has obtained since Chile returned to holding democratic elections in 1989.

Evelyn Matthei, the conservative candidate of the ruling Alianza coalition, conceded after capturing just 38% of the vote, the right's worst performance in two decades.

Ms Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female leader, will look to capitalise on her resounding win to make changes aimed at redressing persistent inequality in the world's top copper exporter.             

"Today we embark on a new era ... Chile has decided it is the moment to begin deep transformation," she told crowds of cheering supporters outside the La Moneda presidential palace.

A physician by training, Ms Bachelet is a moderate socialist and has promised 50 reforms in her first 100 days, once she takes office in March.

Her flagship policy is a 5% increase in corporate taxes to pay for social reforms that include a gradual move to free higher education.

Yet she is a long way from the hard-left radicalism that has shaped Venezuela and Argentina in recent years.

She is closer to the pragmatic, business-friendly stance of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Ms Bachelet has committed to stick to the path of fiscal prudence that has characterised the economy of the Andean country in recent decades.

Keywords: chile
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