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Chile's Bachelet promises reforms after landslide election win

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Chiles Bachelet promises reforms after landslide election win
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Santiago (Chile): Center-leftist Michelle Bachelet promised major tax and education reforms to help ease Chile's social divisions after sweeping back to power with a huge majority in presidential elections on Sunday.

Bachelet won with about 62 percent support, the highest share of votes for any presidential candidate since the country returned to holding democratic elections in 1989.

The landslide victory against Evelyn Matthei, the conservative candidate of the Alianza coalition, puts Bachelet back in the Moneda presidential palace after a four-year gap and gives her a mandate to push for an education overhaul and the fiscal reforms to help pay for it.

"Chile has looked at itself, has looked at its path, its recent history, its wounds, its feats, its unfinished business and this Chile has decided it is the time to start deep transformations," Bachelet told a jubilant crowd of supporters on Sunday night as confetti rained down.

"There is no question about it: profits can't be the motor behind education because education isn't merchandise and because dreams aren't a consumer good."

Good quality schooling is generally only available in Chile to those who can pay, and massive student protests demanding change - which sometimes turned violent - hurt the popularity of outgoing conservative president Sebastian Pinera.

Bachelet ran on a platform of social policies to address a deep divide between rich and poor, and plans to hike the corporate tax rate.

Chile, the world's top copper-exporting nation, is ranked the most unequal country in the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"She will govern a country with profound demands for change," Senator Ricardo Lagos Weber of Bachelet's New Majority coalition told Reuters. "The country isn't flat on its back, it is healthy, organized, growing economically, creating jobs and improving salaries. But it is also deeply unequal."

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