Former Chilean president confirms re-election bid

POPULAR CANDIDATE::Michelle Bachelet, dubbed ‘the mother of Chileans,’ left office in 2010 with an approval rating of 84 percent


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 7

Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday she would seek a second term in the Nov. 17 elections, vowing to fight inequality if she won.

Bachelet, who from 2006 to 2010 was the first woman to lead the South American country, made the announcement to applause at a public event in a southern Santiago neighborhood where she grew up.

“I am ready for this challenge, I have made the decision to be a candidate,” the 61-year-old said.

Polls show that Bachelet is the runaway favorite in the race, even though she first has to win a June 30 primary poll against three largely unknown candidates.

Bachelet arrived in the Chilean capital hours earlier. She has spent the past several years living in New York, where she became the first head of UN Women, a UN agency created in 2010 tasked with improving gender equality.

Bachelet said her candidacy was aimed at assembling a “new political and social majority” to tackle a growing malaise among citizens.

Bachelet had indicated during a visit to Chile in January that she would announce this month whether she would pursue a new mandate, leaving her country on tenterhooks.

A socialist, agnostic and divorced mother of three, Bachelet was a strange choice to lead staunchly Roman Catholic Chile, but her informal political style and personal touch led her to being dubbed “the mother of Chileans.”

She left office with an approval rating of 84 percent, despite criticism over the response to Chile’s massive February 2010 earthquake, and left behind a legacy of mostly successful efforts to improve the lot of Chilean women.

The Chilean constitution prohibits the serving of two consecutive terms and so Bachelet could not immediately seek re-election.