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Bachelet wins primary, new term looks in reach


Michelle Bachelet, Chile's popular ex-president, handily won an opposition party primary Sunday, putting her on a path to what analysts said could be a one-round election to a new term.

Bachelet, a pediatrician turned socialist politician, who was her country's first woman president and served from 2006-2010, was until recently executive director of gender equality body UN Women.

Now running to replace conservative billionaire President Sebastian Pinera, Bachelet appeared to score a decisive 73.7 percent of the primary vote, Electoral Board returns showed with 92 percent of ballots tallied.

In the November 17 vote, she will face ultraconservative Pablo Longueira, who outdid rival Andres Allamand, earning 50.6 to Allamand's 49.3 percent.

Her strong showing and their divided support base -- barring changes in the field -- make it more likely that Bachelet could be swept into power in that first round vote, something which has not happened in two decades in the South American nation.