An atheist and divorced single mom for president of Chile?

Michelle Bachelet, a socialist, is the frontrunner in the Catholic country's upcoming election.


Juliana Bunim
December 10, 2005 6:31AM (UTC)

Chile, a Catholic country, legalized divorce just last year, and only 4 percent of the country's senators are female. But the South American country is about to shed its ultraconservative skin, as Michelle Bachelet, an atheist, socialist, doctor and single mother of three, is poised to take the helm as the first female president anywhere in the Americas to be elected based on her own record, according to a fascinating Op-Ed in Friday's New York Times.

Opinion polls predict Bachelet as the clear winner, indicating that the country is ready to leave a male-dominated and violent political past well behind. Bachelet, a mother of three children, whom she raised alone, is -- gasp! -- also single. The former defense and health minister advocates for women in the workplace in hopes of lowering poverty rates. She also vows to make at least half of her cabinet female, as well as increase government pensions, boost college loans and revamp education, which currently schools only one-third of children in the country.

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According to Rafael Gumucio, a Chilean journalist writing in the Times, Chile is ready for a cultural transformation: "The Pandora's box of Chilean politics has been flung wide open: nowadays it isn't at all strange to see an ultraconservative Catholic candidate signing his name on a transvestite's legs as a publicity stunt, nor is it odd to hear Ms. Bachelet talk about how hard it is to find Mr. Right."

Señora Presidente, anyone? We'll drink to that.


Juliana Bunim

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