16 Dec 2013

Left-winger storms to victory in Chilean presidential election

3:09 pm on 16 December 2013

Michelle Bachelet has been elected again as Chile's president in a landslide victory that gives her a mandate to push ahead with wide-reaching leftist reforms.

She 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, conceded defeat after capturing just 38% of the vote, the right's worst performance in two decades, Reuters reports. Turnout appears to have been lower than expected.

A supporter holds up a poster of new Chilean president Michelle Bachelet.

A supporter holds up a poster of new Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. Photo: AFP

Ms Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female leader, has a flagship policy to raise corporate taxes from 20% to 25% to pay for social reforms that include a gradual move to free higher education.

Upon hearing the news, her supporters have been celebrating on the streets by waving flags and sounding car horns in the capital Santiago.

Ms Bachelet leads an alliance of her Socialist Party, Christian Democrats and Communists and has campaigned on policies designed to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

Chile is one of the richest countries in Latin America, but millions have staged protests over the past few years to push for a wider distribution of wealth and better education.

Ms Bachelet was constitutionally barred from serving a second successive term but was very popular when she left office. She replaces the incumbent Sebastian Pinera.