|Birth Day:||September 29, 1951|
|Birth Place:||Santiago, Chile|
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Bachelet was born in La Cisterna, a middle-class suburb of Santiago. She was named after French actress Michèle Morgan. Bachelet spent many of her childhood years traveling around her native Chile, moving with her family from one military base to another. She lived and attended primary school in Quintero, Cerro Moreno, Antofagasta and San Bernardo. In 1962 she moved with her family to the United States, where her father was assigned to the military mission at the Chilean Embassy in Washington, D.C. Her family lived for almost two years in Bethesda, Maryland, where she attended Western Junior High School and learned to speak English fluently.
Returning to Chile in 1964, she graduated in 1969 from Liceo Nº 1 Javiera Carrera, a prestigious girls' public high school, finishing near the top of her class. There she was class president, a member of the choir and volleyball teams, and part of a theater group and a band, "Las Clap Clap", which she co-founded and which toured around several school festivals. In 1970, after obtaining a relatively high score on the university admission test, she entered medical school at the University of Chile, where she was selected in the 113th position (out of 160 admitted applicants). She originally intended to study sociology or economics, but was prevailed upon by her father to study medicine instead. She has said she opted for medicine because it was "a concrete way of helping people cope with pain" and "a way to contribute to improve health in Chile."
Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet's father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet suddenly came to power via the 11 September 1973 coup d'état, Bachelet's father was detained at the Air War Academy on charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago's Public Prison, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death on 12 March 1974. In early January 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and subjected to interrogation and torture. In 2013 Bachelet revealed she had been interrogated by DINA chief Manuel Contreras there. Some days later, Bachelet was transferred to Cuatro Álamos ("Four Poplars") detention center, where she was held until the end of January. Thanks to the assistance of Roberto Kozak, Bachelet was able to go into exile in Australia, where her older brother, Alberto, had moved in 1969. Of her torture, Bachelet said in 2004 that "it was nothing in comparison to what others suffered". She was "yelled at using abusive language, shaken," and both she and her mother were "threatened with the killing of the other." She was "never tortured with electricity," but she did see it done to other prisoners.
In May 1975 Bachelet left Australia and later moved to East Germany, to an apartment assigned to her by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government in Am Stern, Potsdam; her mother joined her a month later, living separately in Leipzig. In October 1976, she began working at a communal clinic in the Babelsberg neighborhood, as a preparatory step to continuing her medical studies at an East German university. During this period, she met architect Jorge Leopoldo Dávalos Cartes, another Chilean exile, whom she married in 1977. In January 1978 she went to Leipzig to learn German at the Karl Marx University's Herder Institute (now the University of Leipzig). Her first child with Dávalos, Jorge Alberto Sebastián, was born there in June 1978. She returned to Potsdam in September 1978 to continue her medical studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin for two years. Five months after enrolling as a student, however, she obtained authorization to return to her country.
After four years in exile, Bachelet returned to Chile in 1979. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies where she had left off before fleeing the country. She graduated as physician-surgeon on 7 January 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was rejected by the military government on "political grounds". Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship from the Chilean Medical Chamber to specialize in pediatrics and public health at the University of Chile's Roberto del Río Children's Hospital (1983–86). She completed the program with excellent grades but for "financial reasons" did not obtain her certification.
During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation's Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. Between 1985 and 1987, Bachelet had a romantic relationship with Alex Vojkovic Trier, an engineer and spokesman for the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, an armed group that, among other activities, attempted to assassinate Pinochet in 1986. The affair was a minor issue during her presidential campaign, during which she argued that she never supported any of Vojkovic's activities.
After Chile made a transition to democracy in 1990, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health's West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit. While working for the National AIDS Commission (Conasida) she became romantically involved with Aníbal Hernán Henríquez Marich, a fellow physician – and right-wing Pinochet supporter – who fathered her third child, Sofía Catalina, in December 1992; their relationship ended a few years later. Between March 1994 and July 1997, Bachelet worked as Senior Assistant to the Deputy Health Minister. Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies (ANEPE) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class. Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master's program in military science at the Chilean Army's War Academy.
Following her return from exile she became politically active during the second half of the 1980s, fighting – though not on the front line – for the re-establishment of democracy in Chile. In 1995 she became part of the party's Central Committee, and from 1998 until 2000 she was an active member of the Political Commission. In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth with 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of the Concertación, Chile's governing coalition from 1990 to 2010, she worked for Ricardo Lagos's nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.
On 11 March 2000, Bachelet – virtually unknown at the time – was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos's government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President. She authorized free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse, generating controversy.
On 7 January 2002, she was appointed Minister of National Defense, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that "never again" would the military subvert democracy in Chile. She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations. A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet's chances to the presidency came in mid-2002 during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.
In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was considered the only politician of the Coalition of Parties for Democracy (Concertación de los Partidos por la Democracia; CPD) able to defeat Joaquín Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists' candidate for the presidency. At first hesitant to accept the nomination as it was never one of her goals, she finally agreed because she felt she could not disappoint her supporters. On 1 October of that year she was freed from her government post in order to begin her campaign and to help the CPD at the municipal elections held later that month. On 28 January 2005 she was named the Socialist Party's candidate for president. An open primary scheduled for July 2005 to define the sole presidential candidate of the CPD was canceled after Bachelet's only rival, Christian Democrat Soledad Alvear, a cabinet member in the first three CPD administrations, pulled out early due to a lack of support within her own party and in opinion polls.
Bachelet began her term with an unprecedented absolute majority in both chambers of Congress – before appointed senators were eliminated in the 2005 constitutional reforms the CPD never had a majority in the Senate – but she was soon faced with internal opposition from a number of dissatisfied lawmakers from both chambers of Congress, the so-called díscolos ("disobedient", "ungovernable"), which jeopardized the coalition's narrow and historic congressional majority on a number of key executive-sponsored bills during much of her first two years in office, and forced her to negotiate with a right-wing opposition she saw as "obstructionist". During 2007 the CPD lost its absolute majority in both chambers of Congress, as several senators and deputies from that coalition became independent.
In the December 2005 election, Bachelet faced the center-right candidate Sebastián Piñera (RN), the right-wing candidate Joaquín Lavín (UDI) and the leftist candidate Tomás Hirsch (JPM). As the opinion polls had forecast, she failed to obtain the absolute majority needed to win the election outright, winning 46% of the vote. In the runoff election on 15 January 2006, Bachelet faced Piñera, and won the presidency with 53.5% of the vote, thus becoming her country's first female elected president and the first woman who was not the wife of a previous head of state or political leader to reach the presidency of a Latin American nation in a direct election.
On 30 January 2006, after being declared President-elect by the Elections Qualifying Court (Tricel), Bachelet announced her cabinet of ministers, which was unprecedentedly composed of an equal number of men and women, as was promised during her campaign. In keeping with the Coalition's internal balance of power she named seven ministers from the Christian Democrat Party (PDC), five from the Party for Democracy (PPD), four from the Socialist Party (PS), one from the Social Democrat Radical Party (PRSD) and three without party affiliation.
Bachelet was sworn in as President of the Republic of Chile on 11 March 2006 in a ceremony held in a plenary session of the National Congress in Valparaíso attended by many foreign heads of states and delegates. Much of Bachelet's first three months as president were spent working on 36 measures she had promised during her campaign to implement during her first 100 days in office. They ranged from simple presidential decrees, such as providing free health care for older patients, to complex bills to reform the social security system and the electoral system. For her first state visit, Bachelet chose Argentina, arriving in Buenos Aires on 21 March. There she met with president Néstor Kirchner, with whom she signed strategic agreements on energy and infrastructure, including the possibility of launching a bidding process to operate the Transandine Railway.
In March 2006 Bachelet created an advisory committee to reform the pension system, which was headed by former budget director Mario Marcel. The commission issued its final report in July 2006, and in March 2008 Bachelet signed the bill into law. The new legislation established a Basic Solidarity Pension (PBS) and a Solidarity Pension Contribution (APS), guaranteeing a minimum pension for the 60% poorest segment of the population, regardless of their contribution history. The reform also grants a bonus to female pensioners for every child born alive.
In October 2006 Bachelet enacted legislation to protect subcontracted employees, which would benefit an estimated 1.2 million workers. In June 2009 she introduced pay equality legislation, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work in the private sector, regardless of gender.
Bachelet's first political crisis came in late April 2006, when massive high school student demonstrations – unseen in three decades – broke out throughout the country, demanding better public education. In June 2006, she sought to dampen the student protests by setting up an 81-member advisory committee, including education experts from all political backgrounds, representatives of ethnic groups, parents, teachers, students, school owners, university rectors, people from diverse religious denominations, etc. Its purpose was to propose changes to the country's educational system and serve as a forum to share ideas and views. The committee issued its final report in December 2006. In August 2009, she signed the education reform bill into law, which created two new regulatory bodies: a Superintendency on Education and a Quality Agency.
During her presidency Bachelet opened 18 new subway stations in Santiago, nine in 2006, one in 2009 and eight in 2010. In December 2009 Bachelet announced the construction of a new subway line in Santiago, to be operational by 2014 (the date was later changed to mid-2016).
During Bachelet's four years in office the economy grew at an average of 3.3% (2.3% in per capita terms), with a high of 5.7% in 2006 and a negative growth of −1.0% in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. The minimum wage increased an average of 2% per year in real terms (the lowest of any president since 1990), while unemployment hovered between seven and eight percent during her first three years and rose to nearly 11% during 2009. Inflation averaged 4.5% during her term, reaching close to 9% during 2008 due to an increase in food prices. Absolute poverty fell from 13.7% in November 2006 to 11.5% in November 2009.
In December 2006, Pinochet died. Bachelet decided not to grant him a state funeral, an honour bestowed upon constitutionally elected Chilean presidents, but a military funeral as former commander-in-chief of the Army appointed by President Salvador Allende. She also refused to declare an official national day of mourning, but did authorize flags at military barracks to fly at half staff. Pinochet's coffin was also allowed to be draped in a Chilean flag. Bachelet did not attend his funeral, saying it would be "a violation of [her] conscience", and sent Defense Minister Vivianne Blanlot.
During her first year in office Bachelet faced continuing problems from neighbors Argentina and Peru. In July 2006 she sent a letter of protest to Argentine president Néstor Kirchner after his government issued a decree increasing export tariffs on natural gas to Chile, which was considered by Bachelet to be a violation of a tacit bilateral agreement. A month later a long-standing border dispute resurfaced after Argentina published some tourist maps showing contested territory in the south – the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Patagónico Sur) – as Argentine, violating an agreement not to define a border over the area.
Continuing the coalition's free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People's Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4), also signed under Lagos's presidency. She held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, Vietnam, Turkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.
In February 2007 Santiago's transport system was radically altered with the introduction of Transantiago, designed under the previous administration. The system was nearly unanimously condemned by the media, the users and the opposition, significantly damaging her popularity, and leading to the sacking of her Transport minister. On her decision not to abort the plan's start, she said in April 2007 she was given erroneous information which caused her to act against her "instincts."
Bachelet was widely credited for resisting calls from politicians from her own coalition to spend the huge copper revenues to close the country's income gap. Instead in 2007 she created the Economic and Social Stabilization Fund, a sovereign wealth fund which accumulates fiscal surpluses which are above 1% of GDP. This allowed her to finance new social policies and provide economic stimulus packages when the 2008 financial crisis hit the country.
In early 2007, Peru accused Chile of unilaterally redefining their shared sea boundary in a section of a law passed by Congress that detailed the borders of the new administrative region of Arica and Parinacota. The impasse was resolved by the Chilean Constitutional Tribunal, which declared that section unconstitutional. In March 2007, the Chilean state-owned and independent public broadcaster Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) canceled the broadcast of a documentary about the War of the Pacific after a cautionary call was made to the stations’ board of directors by Chilean Foreign Relations Minister Alejandro Foxley, apparently acting on demands made by the Peruvian ambassador to Chile; the show was finally broadcast in late May of that year. In August 2007 the Chilean government filed a formal diplomatic protest with Peru and summoned home its ambassador after Peru published an official map claiming a part of the Pacific Ocean that Chile considers its sovereign territory. Peru said this was just another step in its plans to bring the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In January 2008 Peru asked the court to consider the dispute, prompting Bachelet to summon home the Chilean ambassador in Lima for consultations.
Chile's 16 October 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election – with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council – developed into a major ideological issue in the country and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing a lack of regional consensus on a single candidate, ending months of speculation. In March 2007 Chile's ambassador to Venezuela, Claudio Huepe, revealed in an interview with teleSUR that Bachelet personally told him that she initially wanted to vote for Venezuela, but then "there were a series of circumstances that forced me to abstain." The government quickly recalled Huepe and accepted his resignation.
In October 2007, Bachelet granted amnesty to undocumented migrants from other Latin American countries. The measure was expected to benefit around 15,000 Peruvians and 2,000 Bolivians. In December 2007 she signed in Bolivia a trilateral agreement with the presidents of Brazil and Bolivia to complete and improve a 4,700 km road to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, via Arica and Iquique in Chile and Santos in Brazil. In May 2008, following months of intense lobbying, Chile was elected as member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, obtaining the largest vote among Latin American countries.
Bachelet's popularity dipped further in her second year, reaching a low of 35% approval, 46% disapproval in September 2007. This fall was mainly attributed to the Transantiago fiasco. That same month she had a second negative incident when a group of earthquake and tsunami victims she was visiting in the southern region of Aisén received her bearing black flags and accused her of showing up late. The city mayor, who told Bachelet to "go to hell", later apologized. Over the following 12 months, however, Bachelet's approval ratings did not improve. At the onset of the global financial crisis in September 2008 Bachelet's popularity was at 42%, but gradually her job approval ratings began to rise. When she left office in March 2010 her popular support was at a record 84%, according to conservative polling institute Adimark GfK.
Between 2008 and 2010 the Bachelet administration delivered a so-called "literary briefcase" (a box of books including encyclopedias, dictionaries, poetry works and books for both children and adults) to the 400,000 poorest families with children attending primary school from first to fourth grade.
In September 2008, Chile's Constitutional Court declared a US$400 million loan by the Inter-American Development Bank to fund the transport system unconstitutional. Bachelet – who had been forced to ask for the loan after Congress had refused to approve funds for the beleaguered program in November 2007 – made use of an emergency clause in the Constitution that grants funds equivalent to 2% of the fiscal budget. In November 2008, she invoked the emergency clause again after Congress denied once again funds for the system for 2009.
In August 2008, Bachelet signed a freedom of information bill into law, which became effective in April 2009.
In April 2008, Bachelet's Education Minister, Yasna Provoste, was impeached by Congress for her handling of a scandal involving mismanagement of school subsidies. Her conviction was the first for a sitting minister in 36 years.
In May 2008, Bachelet became the first President pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and in September she called for an urgent summit after Bolivian President Evo Morales warned of a possible coup attempt against him. The presidents of Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia, and the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States, met with Bachelet at the La Moneda Palace in Santiago, where they agreed to send two commissions to Bolivia: one to mediate between the executive and the opposition, and another to investigate the killings in Pando Department.
In September 2009 Bachelet signed the "Chile Grows with You" plan into law, providing comprehensive social services to vulnerable children from ages zero to six. That law also established a social welfare management framework called the "Intersectoral Social Protection System", made up of subsystems such as "Chile Solidario" and "Chile Grows with You".
In March 2009, Bachelet launched the "I Choose my PC" program, awarding free computers to poor seventh-graders with excellent academic performance attending government-subsidized schools. During 2009 and 2010 Bachelet delivered maternity packages to all babies born in public hospitals, which are about 80% of total births. In January 2010, Bachelet promulgated a law allowing the distribution of Emergency contraception pills in public and private health centers, including to persons under 14, without parental consent. The law also requires high schools to add a sexual education program to their curriculum.
In January 2009 Bachelet opened the Museum of Memory in Santiago, documenting the horrors of Pinochet's 16-and-a-half-year dictatorship. In November she promulgated a law (submitted to Congress during the previous administration) creating the National Institute for Human Rights, with the goal of protecting and promoting human rights in the country. The law also allowed for the reopening of the Rettig and Valech commissions for 18 months. She used her power as president to send a bill to legalize gay marriages, and sponsored a reproductive rights bill,
In February 2009, Bachelet visited Cuba and met with Fidel Castro. There she urged the United States to put an end to the embargo. No Chilean head of state had visited the country in 37 years. The meeting with Castro backfired when Castro wrote a day later that the "fascist and vengeful Chilean oligarchy is the same which more than 100 years ago robbed Bolivia of its access to the Pacific and of copper-rich lands in a humiliating war."
In March 2009, Bachelet hosted in Viña del Mar the "Progressive Leaders Summit", meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and presidents Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina. The meeting garnered some media interest because it took place six days before the highly anticipated G-20 Summit in London.
In December 2009 Chile became the first country in South America, and the second in Latin America after Mexico, to receive an invitation to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Bachelet signed the accession agreement in January 2010, but it formally became a member in May 2010, after she had left office.
On 27 February 2010, in the last week of summer vacations and less than two weeks before Bachelet's term expired, Chile was ravaged by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 500 people, toppled apartment buildings and bridges and triggered tsunamis that wiped away entire fishing villages. Bachelet and the government were criticized for a slow response to the disaster, which hit on a Saturday at 3:34 am. and left most of the country without electricity, phone or Internet access. Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" and on Sunday afternoon sent military troops to the most affected areas in an effort to quell scenes of looting and arson. She imposed night curfews in the most affected cities. She was criticized for not deploying the troops fast enough.
In January 2010, Bachelet enacted a law creating the Ministry for the Environment. The new legislation also created the Environmental Evaluation Service and the Superintendency for the Environment.
In April 2010, Bachelet inaugurated her own think-tank, "Fundación Dialoga". Its headquarters are located in Providencia, a suburb of Santiago.
On 14 September 2010, Bachelet was appointed head of the newly created United Nations body UN Women by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She took office on 19 September 2010. On 15 March 2013 she announced her resignation.
On 27 March 2013, Bachelet announced that she would seek a second term as President of Chile in the 2013 elections. The well-respected CEP released a poll in May 2012 suggesting that 51% of voters wished to see her become the next president, far ahead of any other would-be candidate.
On 30 June 2013, Bachelet became the Nueva Mayoría's candidate for president after she won a four-way primary election with the support of five center and left parties (PS, PPD, PC, IC, MAS) and 73% of the vote.
Bachelet was sworn in as President of the Republic of Chile for a second time on 11 March 2014 at the National Congress in Valparaíso. Isabel Allende, daughter of former President Salvador Allende, as the newly elected President of the Senate, administered the affirmation of office to Bachelet, the first time in the country's history both parties involved were women.
In September 2014, the Chilean Congress passed Bachelet's tax reform proposal which aimed to increase revenue by 3% of gross domestic product. Measures included in the reform were:
When Michelle Bachelet again took office of President in March 2014, she made passing Piñera's civil union bill a priority. The name of the bill was changed to Civil Union Pact (Pacto de Unión Civil) on 17 December, and Congress reiterated their intention to hold the final vote by January 2015. On 6 January 2015, a provision recognising foreign marriages as civil unions was approved in the Constitutional Committee while the child adoption clause was turned down. The bill went to a final vote before both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies as it was amended. On 13 January, the full Chamber of Deputies reinserted the adoption provision. On 20 January 2015, the Chamber approved the bill on a vote of 86 to 23 with 2 abstentions. On 27 January, the Senate rejected all the Chamber's amendments, so the bill was headed to the joint committee of both houses. The committee reached the agreement in regard to the text of the bill and changed its name to Civil Union Agreement (Acuerdo de Unión Civil) the same day. The bill was passed in both houses on 28 January 2015. Several lawmakers asked the Chilean Constitutional Court to verify the bill's constitutionality, which was upheld by the court in a ruling released on 6 April 2015. The bill was signed into law by President Bachelet on 13 April 2015. It was published in the Official Gazette on 21 April 2015 and took effect on 22 October 2015.
In 2015, the Chile Constitutional Court rejected large portions of Bachelet's plan to offer free college education to half of the nation's poorest students on grounds that requiring them to attend certain schools participating in the program could be considered discrimination. However, what remained of the plan allowed Bachelet to send 200,000 students from low-income families to college free of cost.
The Chilean Congress passed Bachelet's proposed abolishment of the binomial voting system introduced by the Augusto Pinochet regime and restoring proportional representation for election to both chambers of the Chilean Congress and requirements that 40% of candidates nominated are female in January 2015. The new system took effect from the 2017 elections, increasing the members of the Chamber of Deputies from 120 to 155 seats and the Senate from 38 seats to 43 seats in 2017 and 50 seats in 2021. As a result, the 2017 election saw the end of the dominance of Bachelet's New Majority and conservative coalitions and increased number of new political parties represented in Congress.
In September 2015, Bachelet's approval rating was 24%, compared to 72% disapproval. Chileans' support for her dropped sharply after revelations of corruption scandals such as the Caval scandal, which involved her son and daughter-in-law accepting millions of dollars in the form of a loan from Vice-Chairman of the Banco de Chile Andrónico Luksic Craig. The couple's company (Caval) used the money to purchase land and resell it at a $5 million profit after repaying the loan. Bachelet maintains that she was unaware of her family's actions and found out about the agreement between Luksic and her daughter-in-law through the press. By August 2016, Bachelet's approval rating dropped to 15%, the lowest for any President since the return of free elections in 1990, and in March 2017, Bachelet's approval rating remained low, at about 23%.
On 1 December 2016, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved (except for 6 abstentions) a bill to give couples who enter in a civil union five days off, like what married couples have. The bill was approved by the Senate in October 2017, in a unanimous 15–0 vote.
A new Ministry for Women and Gender Inequality was formed, replacing the National Women's Service in June 2016 which aimed to formulate policies against abuse of women and gender inequality. Claudia Pascual was appointed as the first ever Minister for Women and Gender Inequality.
In 2016, overseas voting rights for Chilean women and men living outside the country were introduced, allowing Chilean citizens who live abroad to exercise their right to vote beginning from the 2017 elections.
The Chilean Congress approved Bachelet's abortion legalisation bill in some circumstances in July 2017, but was subjected to challenge in the Constitutional Court. Later, Chile's total abortion ban implemented under the Pinochet regime in 1989 was lifted in August 2017 after the Constitutional Court voted 6–4 to allow the procedure under some circumstances: in cases of pregnancy as a result of rape (up to 12 weeks), if the fetus endangers the mother's life, or if the fetus is not viable. Prior to this, Chile was one of only four nations in the Americas that had a total ban on abortions, the others being El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
On 10 August 2018 the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warmly welcomed the UN General Assembly’s appointment of Michelle Bachelet to succeed him. He said that "She has all the attributes – courage, perseverance, passion, and a deep commitment to human rights"
In January 2018, the Chilean Senate passed a law guaranteeing free education which was supported by conservative opposition parties as well, allowing the poorest 60% of students to study for free and doubled state funding for public universities. The new legislation created a higher education Superintendent empowered to supervise and penalise institutions which do not provide quality of education or have for-profit operations.
A new 720,000sq km protection area for waters surrounding the Easter Island following a poll of the islands native to Rapa Nui inhabitants was created, protecting at least 142 endemic marine species, including 27 threatened with extinction. Five new national parks in the Patagonia region were created under a presidential decree, covering 10 million acres in January 2018, including 1 million acres of land contributed by conservationist Kris Tompkins. On 9 March 2018, Bachelet created nine marine reserves to protect biodiversity with her final presidential decree, increasing the area of the sea under state protection from 4.2 percent to 42.4 percent. The measure is expected to benefit marine life in approximately 1.4 million square kilometers.
On 8 March 2018, three days before Bachelet left office, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) multilateral trade agreement was signed in Santiago with Chile and 10 other signatory countries in the Asia Pacific region, following renegotiation of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which was signed in February 2016. The TPP was renegotiated into the CPTPP following the United States' withdrawal from the original TPP in January 2017.
Bachelet left office in March 2018 with an approval rating at 39% according to Adimark, in contrast to the 84% rating when she left office in 2010.
On 10 September 2018, Bachelet urged China to allow observers into Xinjiang and expressed concern about the situation there. She said that: ’’The UN rights group had shown that Uyghurs and other Muslims are being detained in camps across Xinjiang and I expect discussions with Chinese officials to begin soon’’. China called for Bachelet to respect its sovereignty.
In September 2018, Bachelet criticized Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. She has called on Saudi Arabia to hold accountable those responsible for airstrikes on civilians in Yemen.
On 5 October 2019, Bachelet said she was “troubled” by Hong Kong’s increasingly violent pro-democracy protests, and stressed that any measures to quell the unrest must be grounded in law. She also stated that "Freedom of peaceful assembly … should be enjoyed without restriction to the greatest extent possible. But on the other hand, we cannot accept people who use masks to provoke violence."
On 9 October 2020, Bachelet expressed concern about the suffering of civilians during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Currently, Michelle Bachelet is 70 years, 2 months and 10 days old. Michelle Bachelet will celebrate 71st birthday on a Thursday 29th of September 2022.
Find out about Michelle Bachelet birthday activities in timeline view here.