Abridged from today’s Reuter’s
“Chile president-elect Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist who will be the country’s first female leader, vowed on Monday to shrink the gap between rich and poor that persists in the South American nation despite lower poverty and a thriving economy.
Bachelet, from Chile’s ruling centre-left coalition, won 53 percent of ballots cast in Sunday’s election while opposition candidate Sebastian Pincer took 47 percent, the government Electoral Service said.
Political scientist Ricardo Israel said a main challenge for Bachelet will be to bring more women into public office, and to find a place for her social-democratic coalition within the range of leftist governments taking hold in Latin America.
Bachelet has promised women would get half the jobs in her cabinet, and she told tens of thousands of confetti-throwing supporters she will work to improve social security and education by the time her four-year term ends in 2010.
A Bachelet victory consolidates a shift to the left in Latin America, where leftists now run Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela, some with politics more extreme than others.
Socialist Evo Morales will soon take office in gas-rich Bolivia, and a leftist is favoured to win Mexico’s July presidential election.
“I think she will have to make one decision very soon, which is whether or not to attend the inauguration of Evo Morales, which is on January 22,” Israel said, alluding to traditional tensions between the two neighbours.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in a weekly broadcast on Sunday, called himself “a good friend” of Bachelet’s. Chavez who says he is leading a socialist revolution in his own country has supported leftists that have risen to power in Latin America recently as part of his opposition to what he calls US Imoperialism. Chavez praised Bachelet’s tenacity and pledged his government’s collaboration with Chile, Venezuela’s presidential press office reported.”