Latin America & Caribbean

Chile profile - Leaders

President: Michelle Bachelet

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet returned to the presidency in March 2014 after a four-year break, promising to tackle inequality.

Her election victory in late 2013 followed a campaign of promises to finance education reform with higher corporate taxes, improve health care, change the dictatorship-era constitution to make Congress more representative and reduce the vast gap between the rich and poor.

During her first presidency from 2006 to 2010, Ms Bachelet won praise for shepherding Chile through the global economic crisis.

Many blame the 1973-90 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew President Salvador Allende, for concentrating wealth and power. Pinochet privatised water resources and ended agrarian reforms. He also eliminated central control and funding of public schools.

In her second stint at the helm, Ms Bachelet will have a chance to cement her legacy as a transformative leader who experienced at first hand the horrors of the Pinochet military dictatorship.

During that dark period, Ms Bachelet was tortured, fled the country, and then returned years later to work as a pediatrician, eventually entering politics.

Her father died after being tortured for remaining loyal to leftist president Allende in the 1973 coup that saw Pinochet come to power.

She returned to Chile in 2013 after three years in New York, where she headed UN Women.

In the 2013 polls she defeated conservative Evelyn Matthei with 62% of the vote.

She succeeded Sebastian Pinera, who was barred from running for a second consecutive term.