Bachelet wins Chile election in a landslide, plans reforms
By Alexandra Ulmer and Rosalba O'Brien, Reuters
December 16, 2013, 2:14 pm TWN
SANTIAGO - Michelle Bachelet was elected as Chile's president again on Sunday in a landslide victory that hands the center-leftist the mandate she sought to push ahead with wide-reaching reforms.
Bachelet won with about 62 percent 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 defeat after capturing just 38 percent of the vote, the right's worst performance in two decades.
Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female leader, will look to capitalize 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 waving flags and sounding horns outside the La Moneda presidential palace as dusk fell on a warm summer evening.
A physician by training, 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 hike in corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent, 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, and is closer to the pragmatic, business-friendly stance of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.
Bachelet has committed to stick to the path of fiscal prudence that has characterized the economy of the Andean country in recent decades.
"There are two things we know that don't change in Chile," said political scientist Patricio Navia. "One is that we always have earthquakes. And the other is that since 1990 governments are fiscally responsible. That goes without question."