Monday, January 16, 2006
Bachelet won it:
Socialist president-elect Michelle Bachelet was praised on Monday as a symbol of reconciliation who can help Chile come to terms with its traumatic political past.
Bachelet, who was imprisoned and tortured under the right-wing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, decisively beat her conservative challenger, multimillionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera, in Sunday's election. With 97,5% of about 7,2-million votes counted, Bachelet had 53,4% of the official vote count to Pinera's 46,5%.
Bachelet's centre-left coalition has governed Chile since the end of Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship in 1990.
A 22-year-old medical student when Pinochet's led a coup 1973, Chile's president-to-be was arrested along with her mother and forced into five years of exile.
"She had the capacity for reconciliation in spite of the pains she had to suffer," Alejandro Goic, president of Chile's Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops, said on Monday after meeting Bachelet along with other clerics.
Santiago Archbishop Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuris praised her for "overcoming hatred".
"The success of Mrs Bachelet would be the success of the entire country," he added.