Bachelet triumphs in Chile election but faces runoff

Source: Reuters

Leftist candidate Michelle Bachelet was the clear winner in Chile’s presidential election on Sunday, although she will have to wait until a second-round runoff next month to seal her victory.

With nine candidates running, the vote was fractured and Bachelet, seeking her second term as president, fell just short of the 50 percent she needed for an outright first-round victory.

Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female president, clinched just under 47 percent of the vote. Runner-up Evelyn Matthei of the ruling right-wing coalition was second with 25 percent.

The two will now go head-to-head in a runoff on December 15.

Bachelet is promising an ambitious program of tax and education reform to tackle inequality in the top copper exporting country, while Matthei has pledged to largely continue the business-friendly policies of the current administration of President Sebastian Pinera.

Bachelet’s eventual victory looks assured, as most supporters of the largely anti-establishment minor candidates – who took around 28 percent of the vote between them – will likely throw her their support in the second round, or else abstain.

A physician by training and moderate socialist by conviction, Bachelet has promised 50 reforms in her first 100 days if she returns to power.

Her flagship policy is an increase in corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent to pay for education reforms that include a gradual move to free higher education. She also wants to rewrite the dictatorship-era constitution.

“I voted for Bachelet,” said pensioner Fernando Forttes as he left the polling station on Sunday. “I hope the model will change … with more social justice and through that more opportunities. Her program is a European social democrat program. It’s nothing from another world. Here there will be no revolution.”

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