An outright victory for Michelle Bachelet or a second round in Chile’s presidential elections? That was the main question as she and the country’s 13 million eligible voters went to the polls.
The sixty-two-year old former president has topped the opinion polls in the lead up to the ballot and is poised to become the first Chilean leader in more than 50 years to serve two terms. She was president from 2006 to 2010 but was constitutionally barred from seeking immediate re-election after her first term.
She has pledged to overhaul the educational system and narrow income inequality while wanting to reform economic and political structures dating from the rule of Augusto Pinochet.
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Economist Evelyn Matthei, the candidate for the governing right-wing coalition could force the ballot to a second-round run off even though she is trailing in the opinion polls.
She has campaigned for a continuation of the policies of President Sebastian Pinera.
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The copper rich country has boasted an average annual economic growth of over five percent.
Chile moved to a voluntary voting system from a compulsory one last year making electoral forecasts uncertain.
Voters will also select some senate seats and members of the lower House of Congress and first results are expected in the early hours of Monday morning.