With most of the votes counted, Bachelet had won nearly 47 per cent of votes, with her conservative rival Evelyn Matthei winning 25 percent of votes. Most opinion polls had predicted an outright victory for Bachelet in the first round.
Analyst say Bachelet, who campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-trade policies, must win by a huge majority in the second round to push forward major reforms and revamp the country’s constitution. Sixty two-year-old Bachelet, who was the first female president to rule Chile when she got elected to the post in 2006, is vowing to raise taxes to fund free university education.
A large number of students have long been staging protests demanding that the country reform its educational system. Chile is a wealthy country, but some analysts are arguing that wealth gap has been widening by the day.
Though she was very popular when she left office in 2010, Chile’s constitution barred her from seeking successive second term in office. During her last term, Bachelet resisted calls to spend the huge copper revenues to close the country’s income gap. Instead, she established a sovereign wealth fund to finance social policies and economic stimulus packages.
The likely return of Bachelet will re-invigorate the country’s export promotions – especially in global services – which has been largely gutted during the presidency of Mr. Pinera, many experts contend.