SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Michelle Bachelet handily won her leftist bloc's primary election on Sunday, reaffirming the popular politician is likely to stage a presidential comeback against a struggling right-wing rival in the November 17 vote.
Bachelet, Chile's first female president who governed the world's top copper-exporting nation from 2006 to 2010, has a clear at defeating conservative Pablo Longueira and winning a second term.
A pediatrician turned politician, Bachelet's first term was marked by market-friendly economic policies, welfare programs and her affable personal style.
Since then, her center-left political outlook seems to have shifted somewhat further to the left, coinciding with the massive protests for free and improved education that have swept Chile over the past two years.
Bachelet has pledged to hike corporate taxes, work toward free education and reform the dictatorship-era constitution to achieve her broader goal of reducing Chile's economic and social inequality.
Here are a few of her policy proposals, which would be subject to approval by Congress:
- Gradually hike corporate taxes to 25 percent from their current 20 percent, chiefly to fund an education overhaul. The increased tax take would be equivalent to 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or $8.2 billion.
- Reduce the maximum individual tax rate from 40 percent to 35 percent over the course of four years.
SOCIAL, JUDICIAL AND GOVERNMENT POLICIES
- Work toward free education.
- Legalize abortion in cases of rape or risks to the mother or child's health. Abortion is completely banned in Chile.
- Grant homosexual couples the right to marry. Bachelet says she has changed her mind since her presidency and now favors of gay marriage.
- Create a state-run pension fund as an alternative to Chile's private funds.
- Draft a new constitution to replace the one implemented under former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1980.
- End Chile's binominal electoral system, an unusual process that generally guarantees large parties get heavy representation in Congress while independents struggle. The formula was also implemented under Pinochet.
- Allow governors to be elected. The executive currently selects its regional representatives, triggering criticism of excessive centralization in Chile's far-flung regions.
MINING AND ENERGY POLICIES
- Strive for more energy integration in the region to lower steep power prices and guarantee supply. The planned 2,750-megawatt HidroAysen hydropower project could be scrapped since Bachelet has deemed the controversial complex inviable. HidroAysen is under review by a special ministerial group, and will likely remain in limbo until after the November election or a potential December run-off.
- Bachelet has not said whether she would try to push through an increase to mining royalties, nor has she expressed her views on several unpopular copper and gold projects in the country, including Barrick Gold Corp's Pascua-Lama mine.
(Compiled by Alexandra Ulmer; Edited by Hilary Burke and Stacey Joyce)