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Ex-Chilean president seeks comeback

AP
Chile's former president Michelle Bachelet greets supporters and journalists upon her arrival at the Arturo Merino Benitez Internationl Airport in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Bachelet has returned to the South American country after ending a two-year stint heading the U.N. women's agency in New York. She landed in the capital Wednesday amid wide speculation she'll run for president again this year. Pictured behind Bachelet is Santiago Mayor Carolina Toha. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

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By Reuters
Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
 

SANTIAGO — Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet ended months of speculation on Wednesday by announcing she will run in a November presidential election that she is favored to win.

A popular center-leftist who ruled the copper-exporting nation from 2006 to 2010, Bachelet will likely face a candidate from the right-wing bloc of President Sebastian Pinera, who is barred from seeking a consecutive term under the constitution.

Front-runners for the ruling coalition's candidacy are charismatic businessman and former Public Works Minister Laurence Golborne and former Defense Minister Andres Allamand, a seasoned politician.

“I've taken some time to think about this decision … And with happiness, with determination and much humility, I've taken the decision to be a (presidential) candidate,” Bachelet said in Santiago, days after she quit her job as the head of U.N. Women.

Bachelet's return after months of speculation is a great relief to her fractured left-wing coalition, which Pinera ousted from a 20-year rule. She is expected to face little competition in the primaries. Bachelet, a pediatrician-turned-politician, was one of Chile's most popular presidents.

Voters liked her affable manner, welfare policies and credited her for solid economic growth in one of Latin America's most stable, business-friendly countries.

Her high-profile U.N. post and time away from local politics have boosted her popularity, political analysts say, and opinion polls show her with a wide lead over other potential candidates.

In a poll published by pollster CEP, 49 percent of those surveyed said they wanted Bachelet to be Chile's next president, versus 11 percent for Golborne.

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