Michelle Bachelet was elected President of Chile following a runoff election in January 2006. She is 54 years old, and is the first woman elected to that office in traditionally conservative Chile.
Ms. Bachelet was the candidate for the center-left party alliance Concertacion formally named The Agreement of Parties for Democracy (CPD). The CPD includes the Socialist Party (PS), the Christian-Democratic Party of Chile (PCD), the Party for Democracy (PD) and the Radical Social-Democratic Party (PRSD).
Her strongest opponent was right-wing conservative Catholic Joaquin Lavin, the 52 year old nominee of Independent Democratic Union. Her other opponents included Sebastian Pinera and Tomas Hirsch of the leftist Humanist Party.
Bachelet survived brutal repression under the the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who came to power in 1973 after overthrowning the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. Her father was murdered by the dictatorship, and she and her mother were imprisoned.
In October 2006 Bachelet paid an emotional visit to Villa Grimaldi, the detention center outside Santiago where she and her mother were held and tortured in 1975.
- n.a. "Voters in Chile Could Pick Their First Woman President." Agence France Presse. December 11, 2005.