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Polls show woman Chilean front-runner

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SANTIAGO, Chile, Dec 11, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- The daughter of an air force general tortured to death by Augusto Pinochet's secret police may become Chile's next president.

Michelle Bachelet is expected to win the most votes when Chileans head to the polls Sunday.

The former defense minister likely will follow many of the successful policies of the popular outgoing President Ricardo Lagos, the BBC said.

One polling firm predicted Bachelet would win 46 percent, while billionaire former senator Sebastian Pinera would take 25 percent, ex-Santiago mayor Joaquin Lavin 21 percent and leftist Tomas Hirsch 7.

There will be a run-off if no candidate for president gets over 50 percent.

Bachelet is the candidate for the Concertacion bloc, which has been in power since the end of the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship.

Her family history makes her a popular figure among many Chileans, the BBC said. Two years after her father's death, she and her mother were arrested and tortured themselves, the BBC said.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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