Bachelet Tops Chile President Vote

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Michelle Bachelet, Chile's socialist leader, won a first round of country's presidential race, with voters putting her on track to replace the conservative government after a likely runoff next month, according to partial results.

Bachelet Tops Chile President Vote

Bachelet, who led Chile between 2006 and 2010 as its first female president, had 46.7 percent support with 92 percent of votes counted on Sunday night.

Her second-place rival, Evelyn Matthei, the candidate for the right-wing governing coalition, had 25 per cent of the votes, while seven other candidates trailed far behind, Al Jazeera reported.

"We knew that it would be tough to win on the first round, we worked really hard, and we almost did it," Bachelet told supporters late on Sunday. "We did win tonight, and we are going to work hard to win comfortably in December."

Balloting generally went smoothly, though a group of protesting students occupied Bachelet's campaign headquarters calling for election reform. More than 13m people were registered to vote, and for the first time since democracy was restored in 1990, voting was no longer compulsory.

Matthei and Bachelet were trailed by independent economist Franco Parisi and Socialist Franco-Chilean filmmaker Marco Enriquez-Ominami, at about 10 percent each, the early returns showed. The run-off will be held on December 15.

Voters also were choosing all 120 members of the chamber of deputies, 20
senators and local and regional officials. The legislative vote will be key to whether Bachelet's ambitious social-minded reform plans will succeed.

Results from congressional elections were expected later on Sunday.

A pediatrician by training, Bachelet, 62, seeks to overhaul the country's political and economic system, a legacy of Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 military dictatorship, during which she was briefly a political prisoner.

Her father, an Air Force Brigadier-General, was tortured and killed by Pinochet's regime.

Chile has the highest GDP per capita in Latin America - $22,362 based on purchasing power parity - but half of the nation's 17 million people make less than $500 per month.

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