Chile’s former President Michelle Bachelet has won the first round of the presidential election, with more than ninety percent of the ballots counted.
Bachelet, a moderate Socialist, won nearly 47 percent of the votes, against 25 percent for her main rival Evelyn Matthei, who was the labor minister in the administration of Chile’s current President Sebastian Pinera.
Bachelet, however, should wait until a runoff in mid-December to seal her victory as she fell short of the 50-percent majority of votes required for a candidate to win the election.
“Reaching the second is undoubtedly a great triumph,” Matthei stated on Twitter.
“When this project began, many doubted we would be here. But here we are.”
The 62-year-old Bachelet also predicted that she would win big in the second round. She promised to make political and economic reforms if she wins the one-to-one race next month.
Most opinion polls indicated previously that Bachelet is the front runner in the vote with conservative Matthei being a distant second going into the election.
Pinera called for high voter participation in the elections on Sunday, saying, “I ask people to go vote, to motivate and encourage family members, coworkers and neighbors to do the same.” He will hand over power on March 11, 2014.
Bachelet has pledged to address the deep economic inequality in the country and to increase corporate taxes to help fund an education reform as an answer to recent mass student protests in the country.
Matthei also promised to tackle the high unemployment rate, saying she will continue Pinera’s policies if she is elected.