Chile electorate poised to install first woman leader
A SOCIALIST physician once imprisoned by Chile's former military dictatorship was the front-runner to become the country's first woman president in a closely-fought vote yesterday.
Polls indicated that Michelle Bachelet, the candidate of the centre-left pro-government coalition, entered the election with a strong lead.
However, she was likely to fall short of the 50 per cent vote needed to avoid a run-off on 15 January against one of two right-wing rivals.
"First round or second round, I am confident we will win," Ms Bachelet, 54, said after casting her vote at a Santiago school.
The turnout was high for the fourth presidential election since Chile restored democracy following the 1973-90 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
The successor to the Socialist president, Ricardo Lagos, will be sworn in on 11 March for a four-year term.
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