Bachelet Vows Free Education After Chile Landslide Victory

Bloomberg News by By Javiera Quiroga Dec 16, 2013 8:07 AM ET

President-elect Michelle Bachelet vowed to reduce inequality in Chile by providing free education for all after winning the biggest majority in at least 40 years in yesterday’s vote.

Bachelet will take office March 11 after obtaining 62 percent of the ballots, compared with 38 percent for ruling-alliance candidate Evelyn Matthei, the electoral service said. The 62-year-old who was president from 2006 to 2010 is the first to win a second term since the return to democracy in 1990. Consecutive terms are not allowed in Chile.

Bachelet promised $15.1 billion in extra spending after three years of protests over the quality of schooling pushed the popularity of President Sebastian Pinera to a record low. While Chile is the wealthiest country in Latin America, students said the cost of education was fueling the highest income inequality in the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“Through the prism of education we have been able to dream of a fairer Chile,” Bachelet said in a speech to supporters last night. “Profit cannot be the motor of education, because education is not a commodity. Dreams are not sold on the market.”

The peso rose 0.2% to 529 per U.S. dollar at 10 a.m. Santiago time. The yield on Chile’s 10-year sovereign bonds rose 2 basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 5.17 percent.

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