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Socialist pediatrician Michelle Bachelet, a former political prisoner, won Chile's presidential election on Sunday to become the Andean nation's first woman leader and extend the rule of the country's market-friendly center-left coalition.
With 97.5 percent of some 8 million votes counted, Bachelet had 53.5% of the vote to multimillionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera's 46.4%, according returns announced by the government.
Bachelet's coalition has governed Chile since the end of the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and incumbent president Ricardo Lagos in a speech to the nation urged the coalition to remain united behind Bachelet.
Bachelet, 54, will be only the third woman to be directly elected president of a Latin American country, following Violeta Chamorro, who governed Nicaragua from 1990 to 1997, and Mireya Moscoso, president of Panama from 1999 to 2004.
However, Bachelet, unlike Chamorro and Moscoso, did not follow a politically prominent husband into power.