In front of an audience that included foreign dignitaries, top international leaders and even royalty, Michelle Bachelet officially became Chile’s 40th president on Tuesday — her second time in the role.
In 2010 the center-left leader was elected as the country’s first ever female head of state, and on March 11 she made history once again becoming the first president to be re-elected to the position since Gen. Carlos Ibañez in 1952. Enjoying high approval ratings throughout the election race, Bachelet won in December with more than 60 percent of the vote.
At the swearing-in ceremony at the National Congress in Valparaíso, the new president was conferred the official red, white, and blue sash by newly elected head of the Senate, Isabel Allende — daughter of perhaps Chile’s most famous leader, Salvador Allende. To Bachelet’s left was outgoing president Sebastían Piñera, applauding the woman from whom he succeeded as she returned to the office once more.
In attendance for the ceremony were fellow leading ladies as Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president of Argentina; Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil; and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. In addition to regional heads of state, Vice President Joe Biden travelled to Chile to show the United States’ support for the incoming government as was Spain’s Prince of Asturias Felipe de Borbón, among others.
In an interview with local news ahead of Tuesday’s ceremony, Bachelet said she will hit the ground running as soon as she takes office.
“From day one I will work to fulfill the promises we made,” she said.
Bachelet has pledged to put forward 50 concrete changes in her first 100 days in office. Among the goals the new head of state has her eyes set on are education reform, health, environmental protections, and minority rights.