Chile’s former president Michelle Bachelet defeated her opponent and former childhood friend Evelyn Matthei in a run-off election held on Sunday. Bachelet received 3.5 million votes (63% of votes cast) while her opponent won 2.1 million votes (37%).
The run-off was held after Bachelet and Matthei secured 46.7% and 25 % of votes respectively in the first round of the presidential election held in November.
In an acceptance speech late Sunday night, Bachelet vowed to amend the constitution and raise taxes to fund free higher education.
Analysts predicted Bachelet, who campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-trade policies, to win by a huge majority in the second round to push forward major reforms and revamp the country’s constitution.
Bachelet, 62, became Chile’s first female president in 2006. Although she was very popular when she left office in 2010, Chile’s constitution barred her from seeking a second successive 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.
Bachelet’s return 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 expect.