SANTIAGO, Dec. 15 -- More than 13.5 million Chileans went to the polls Sunday to choose their new president in a run-off vote between two female candidates.
The following are profiles of the two candidates.
-- Michele Bachelet is a former president and candidate of the center-left New Majority coalition.
Born in Santiago on Sept. 29, 1951, Bachelet studied military science at Chile's National Academy of Strategy and Policy, and the Inter-American Defense College in the United States.
In 1975, Bachelet and her mother, an archeologist, were held for about two weeks at Villa Grimaldi, a notorious torture center after her father Alberto Bachelet, an air force brigadier general, died in prison in March 1974 as a victim of torture for opposing the regime of former military ruler Augusto Pinochet.
Bachelet, along with her mother, later went to Austria and Germany. She became a member of the Socialist Party after returning home in 1979.
Bachelet served as health minister from March 2000 to January 2002 and defense minister from January 2002 to October 2004, becoming the first woman to hold the post in the history of Chile and Latin America.
In January 2005, she was named the Socialist Party's presidential candidate.
At a run-off in January 2006, Bachelet won the presidency with 53.5 percent of votes and served until March 2010. She also served as president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations from 2008 to 2009, and executive director of United Nations Women from 2010 to 2013.
During the campaign, she proposed three major reforms: to make free education a right, to make changes to tax laws in a bid to raise 8.5 billion U.S. dollars to finance the educational sector, and to adopt a new constitution.
-- Evelyn Matthei, an economist and politician, is a candidate of the ruling Coalition for Change.
Born on Nov. 11, 1953 to an upper family in Santiago, Matthei became a professor of International Economics at the Economics Institute of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
Her father was health minister, commander-in-chief of the Air Forces and member of the Military Junta during Augusto Pinochet's regime.
She began her political career in the late 1980s by joining the National Renewal party's youth group and later became a member and vice president of the party's Political Commission. She resigned from the party and became an independent until 1999 when she joined the Independent Democrat Union (UDI).
In July 2013, she became the candidate of the Coalition for Change, which included the UDI to campaign for the presidency.
During the campaign, Matthei vowed to keep the path of incumbent President Sebastian Pinera's government and rejected free education, though she pledged to increase higher-education scholarships. She opposed amendments to the constitution adopted in 1980.