Chile’s once and future leader Michelle Bachelet easily won Sunday’s presidential runoff, returning center-left parties to power by promising profound social changes in response to years of street protests. Bachelet won 62 percent of the vote, the most decisive victory in eight decades of Chilean elections. Her conservative rival, Evelyn Matthei only got 37 percent of the vote and conceded defeat in the worst performance for the right in two decades. Bachelet needs the momentum of her resounding victory to strengthen her mandate and try to overcome congressional opposition to fulfill her promises.
The 62-year old pediatrician ended her 2006-2010 presidency with 84 percent approval ratings despite failing to achieve any major changes. This time however, activists are vowing to hold her to her promises, which include raising corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent to help fund an education overhaul and changing the dictatorship-era constitution, a difficult goal given congressional opposition.
“The social and political conditions are here and at last the moment has arrived,” Bachelet told more than 10,000 cheering supporters gathered for her victory speech.
“If I’m here it’s because we believe that a Chile for everyone is necessary. It won’t be easy, but when has it been easy to change the world?”