Michelle Bachelet scored a big win in Chile’s presidential run-off election over the weekend, earning another chance to govern the South American country.
Bachelet, who served as Chile’s president from 2006 to 2010, won 62.16 percent of the vote Sunday in an election marked by a voter abstention rate of nearly 59 percent.
Conservative Evelyn Matthei, the 60-year-old candidate of the governing conservative Alliance for Chile, won 37.83 percent of the vote in the run-off election.
The 62-year-old Bachelet won around 47 percent of the vote in the first round of voting on Nov. 17, beating Matthei, an economist and former labor minister under current President Sebastian Piñera, by some 22 percentage points.
Matthei received 25.01 percent of the vote in the first round.
Bachelet, the candidate of the center-left New Majority alliance, promised to bring far-reaching change to the country, taking advantage of the current economic and political climate.
“Thank you for letting this citizen, someone just like you, become such a fortunate president today,” Bachelet told supporters.
Thousands of people gathered outside a downtown Santiago hotel to cheer for Bachelet and listen to her address.
“Chile has taken a look at itself at this time ... and it has decided it is time to start deep transformations. Today’s win is not personal, it is a collective dream that won,” Bachelet said.
The president-elect, who is calling for a new constitution to replace the one enacted by the late Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, free education and higher taxes on businesses, vowed to make her platform a reality.
“We have the economic, social and political conditions, now is the time, Chile, it is finally the time ... We have the citizens’ support, we have the will and the unity ... it is time to fight inequality together, it is time to once again believe in ourselves,” the president-elect said.
The task of implementing these reforms will not be simple, but it is possible to do it, Bachelet said.
“It is not going to be easy, but when has it been easy to change the world for the better?” Bachelet asked her supporters.
One of the goals will be to create a “constitution born in democracy that secures rights and becomes the new social and renovating pact that Chile needs,” Bachelet said.
This was the first election in Chile’s history with automatic voter registration and a voluntary vote.