White House Congratulates Chilean Presidential Victor

The White House on Monday congratulated socialist Michelle Bachelet on her election as the first female president of Chile.

White House spokeswoman Christie Parell said the U.S. commends the people of Chile for yet another election that shows their strong commitment to democracy.

"We have an excellent, long-standing relationship with Chile and look forward to working with the new president and her team," Parell said.

Bachelet won 53 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff, compared to 46 percent for conservative multimillionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera, according to official results.

With her election, Chile followed Latin America's increasingly leftward tilt, though Bachelet has promised to maintain the free-market policies that have made Chile's economy one of the strongest in the region.

Bachelet, a 54-year-old pediatrician and single mother, was a political prisoner during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and later defense minister for the center-left government.