Socialist Michelle Bachelet Wins Presidency in Chile

But 41% turnout worries new Chilean leader

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Dec 15, 2013 5:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Chile's once and future leader Michelle Bachelet easily won today's presidential runoff, returning center-left parties to power by promising profound changes in response to years of street protests. Bachelet won with 62% of the vote to 38% for the center-right's Evelyn Matthei, who promptly congratulated her rival. "I hope she does very well. No one who loves Chile can wish otherwise," Matthei said. But turnout was just 41%, a factor that worried Bachelet, who needs a strong mandate to overcome congressional opposition and make good on her promises.

"I hope people can come and participate and through their vote give a clear expression of the kind of Chile where they want to continue to live," Bachelet said after casting her ballot earlier Sunday. "The changes we need can't be produced through skepticism." Bachelet, 62, a moderate socialist, ended her 2006-2010 presidency with 84% approval ratings despite failing to achieve any major changes. This time, activists are vowing to hold her to promises to raise corporate taxes to help fund an education overhaul and even change the dictatorship-era constitution, a difficult goal given congressional opposition. Click for more details.

Chile's presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei, waves before casting her vote during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.
Chile's presidential candidate Evelyn Matthei, waves before casting her vote during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.   (Luis Hidalgo)
A dog waits as his owner casts her vote during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.
A dog waits as his owner casts her vote during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.   (Jorge Saenz)
Presidential candidate and former President Michelle Bachelet holds up her vote before casting it during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.
Presidential candidate and former President Michelle Bachelet holds up her vote before casting it during presidential elections in Santiago, Chile, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.   (Jorge Saenz)
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