Campaigning has closed in Chile ahead of Sunday’s presidential run-off. Socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet, who leads her conservative rival by at least five points, is confident she will win. If she does, Bachelet would become the country’s first ever woman president.
In her closing speech, she reiterated her commitment to the liberal policies and free-market economy aims of Chile’s popular outgoing leader Ricardo Lagos. Bachelet, a doctor and a single mother, enjoys wide support from female voters in a country considered one of the most socially-conservative in South America. Her rival is billionaire Sebastian Pinera, the leader of a rightist alliance that has been in opposition for 15 years. Nicknamed the “Chilean Berlusconi”, Pinera – the major shareholder of Chile’s main airline Lan and the owner of a television station – has seen his support dwindle during the campaign. A victory for Bachelet would bolster a shift to the left in Latin America where socialist Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia last month and a leftist candidate is also in the lead in opinion polls in Mexico. Chile’s next president will take office in March and serve a four-year term.