Woman Maintains Lead in Chilean Presidential Election

Michelle Bachelet is leading her opponents after the first round of Chile’s presidential election and could become the country’s first female president after a January runoff. A member of the Socialist Party, Bachelet is a trained physician who practiced for many years before serving as both Minister of Health and Minister of Defense, becoming the first woman in Latin America to hold the latter position, according to Ms. magazine. Upon accepting the endorsement of La Red, Chile’s largest women’s group, Bachelet declared, “Women have been tossed aside for many years in this country—and it’s time for that to change,” reports Ms.

A runoff has become necessary because Bachelet did not earn a full 50 percent of votes, falling short by about four points. BBC reports that Sebastian Pinera, a conservative, earned second place in the election with 25 percent of the vote and will face Bachelet in the runoff. Third place candidate Joaquin Lavin earned 23 percent and has given his support to Pinera, potentially making the runoff more competitive. However, according to the Associated Press (AP), polling suggests that Bachelet is the favorite.

Bachelet has pledged to appoint women to half of the seats in her Cabinet, according to the AP. Bachelet’s Concertacion de Partidos por la Democracia, a four-party coalition, won the majority in both of Chile’s houses of Congress, according to Reuters.

JOIN the Ms. community and receive one year of the premier feminist magazine delivered to you, complete with women’s rights news from around the world.


AP 12/11/05; BBC 12/12/05; Reuters 12/11/05; Ms. Magazine Fall 2005

Support eh ERA banner