Chile's Communist party pledged yesterday to back presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet in a tight run-off in January against a rightist alliance.
Communist supporters account for close to 5 percent of the vote in Chile and their support could ensure a win by socialist Bachelet and her center-left coalition.
The Communist Party's central committee said yesterday it had "resolved to call for a vote for Bachelet," although it also recognised the vote of each member as a personal choice.
Bachelet narrowly missed becoming Chile's first woman president in December elections when she failed to win more than 50 per cent of the vote over three other candidates.
In a run-off race on Jan. 15 she will go up against a rightist alliance led by conservative Sebastian Pinera, who had 37.5 per cent support in a recent poll. The same poll showed Bachelet with 42.8 per cent of support. The poll also showed nearly 20 per cent of voters still undecided. The poll's margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.
Bachelet's presidency was still seen as a sure thing in the second round until rightists united behind Pinera and leftists, disappointed by what they saw as Bachelet's lack of clear policies, threatened to spoil their votes.
Candidates are seen fighting hard to win over undecided voters, although Communist support could tilt the odds in favor of Bachelet, also fighting to become Chile's fourth leader in a row from the left-of-center alliance that has run the country since the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship ended in 1990.