Chileans elect their first woman president

Michelle Bachelet, from Chile's ruling center-left coalition, obtained 53.49 percent of the vote while opposition candidate Sebastian Pinera had 46.5 percent, based on a tally of 99.71 percent votes counted.

15 de Enero de 2006 | 20:26 | Reuters, El Mercurio en Internet
SANTIAGO.- Socialist Michelle Bachelet was elected Chile's first woman president on Sunday, taking more than half the vote. Bachelet, from Chile's ruling center-left coalition, had 53.49 percent of the vote while opposition candidate Sebastian Pinera had 46.5 percent, based on a tally of 99.71 percent votes counted.

"I want to congratulate Michelle Bachelet for her triumph," Pinera, a moderate conservative and one of Chile's wealthiest men, said in a concession speech on live television. Bachelet will be the fourth consecutive president from the center-left pact.

This coalition has run the copper-producing country of 16 million people since Augusto Pinochet stepped down in 1990. Supporters began celebrating at Bachelet's downtown election headquarters immediately after the official results were read on television by an electoral official.

"It's a great vote for the republic's first woman president," said Sergio Bitar, a former cabinet minister and top member of Bachelet's campaign team. Bachelet, a medical doctor and former defense minister, will be the first woman elected to head a South American nation, and the first who was not the widow of a former president -Estela Martínez de Perón, Argentina-.
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