Chile goes to the polls today in a presidential election that could see a woman win the top job for the first time in the country’s history. Voters are also choosing a new parliament made up of 120 deputies and are to fill 20 seats in the senate. Current President Ricardo Lagos is leaving with approval ratings at 60 percent and with the economy booming. He will step down in March after six years in office.
The centre-left front-runner in the poll, Michelle Bachelet, was handpicked by Lagos, his popularity is said to have helped her campaign. She is not expected to get more than 50 percent of the vote needed to take the first round though is touted to win a run-off in January. Polls show she has about twice as much support as her two nearest rivals.
Sebastian Pinera is a billionaire businessman considered a modern conservative, he promises to create a million jobs. The other right winger is Joaquin Lavin, he is more strongly linked to the old fashioned conservatism of the past. A member of Opus Dei, the former mayor of Santiago narrowly lost out to Ricardo Lagos in the last election.