Michelle Bachelet wins second term as president of Chile

Nueva Mayoría opposition candidate won the final round of votes comfortably, securing more than 62 percent against center-right Alianza coalition rival Evelyn Matthei.

Michelle Bachelet will return to presidential palace La Moneda for a second term following a comfortable win against center-right Alianza coalition candidate Evelyn Matthei in the final round of voting Dec. 15.

With 62 percent of the vote, the candidate for the center-left Nueva Mayoría electoral pact will enter into office on March 11, 2014 with a strong mandate as well as a majority in both houses secured in last month’s parliamentary elections.

In an acceptance speech late Sunday night, Bachelet thanked supporters and cast the landslide triumph as the first step in a long process to enact reforms demanded by the electorate.

“This great victory belongs to all of us,” the Nueva Mayoría candidate said. “Society’s work does not end here; our work begins today, right now.”

The former president referred to plans to change the country’s education system and draw up a new constitution as well as a raft of other progressive policies outlined during her campaign.

“Today, alongside the strength that triumph brings, we have hope,” Bachelet said. “Chile has set us a long-term goal: to build a nation in which we are all counted, we all collaborate and we are all capable of looking out for one another. We think this will be the greatest victory any country can hope for.”

Bachelet became the country’s first ever female president in 2006. Despite enjoying high approval rating upon her departure in 2010, however, she could not run for re-election as successive presidential terms are prohibited under Chilean law. In the interim period between her first presidency and the start of the 2013 campaign season, the Nueva Mayoría candidate served as the head of the U.N. Women organization in New York.

Speaking Sunday night after the results became clear, current President Sebastián Piñera praised the two candidates, highlighting the work of both his defeated Alianza colleague Matthei and the president-elect.

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate and express my admiration for [Bachelet] because I know that a nine-month campaign is hard and difficult, but it has been a great triumph,” said Piñera. “And today Chileans have expressed themselves with clarity, in valid and transparent elections which fill us with pride.”