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Sunday 21 September 2014

Chile's leader is sworn in

Carlos Santos

Published 12/03/2014 | 02:30

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Chile's President Michelle Bachelet receives the presidential sash from Senate President Isabel Allende after she was sworn in to office in Valparaiso
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet receives the presidential sash from Senate President Isabel Allende after she was sworn in to office in Valparaiso
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet waves at supporters from the balcony of the La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago
Chile's President Michelle Bachelet waves at supporters from the balcony of the La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago

Michelle Bachelet may be older and wiser than she was eight years ago when she first assumed Chile's presidency, but chances are that leading her restive nation will not be any easier this time around.

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The moderate socialist was inaugurated before Chile's congress in Valparaiso. Ms Bachelet's win followed a campaign of promises to finance education reform with higher corporate taxes, improve healthcare, change the dictatorship-era constitution to make congress more representative, and reduce the vast gap between rich and poor.

"She promised a lot of things, a lot of reforms, so people expect many things to happen," said Patricio Navia, a Chilean political scientist at New York University.

"But the economic conditions have changed," he added. "The economy is not growing quite as fast and Bachelet is not going to have the leverage to introduce all the reforms."

During her first presidency in 2006-10, Ms Bachelet won praise for shepherding Chile through the global economic crisis.

But student protests bedevilled outgoing president Sebastian Pinera, and student union leaders have vowed to make life impossible for Ms Bachelet if she does not follow through on election promises.

"The urgency of the educational crisis that we're living doesn't allow us to give her a honeymoon," said Naschla Aburman, a student leader.

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