Socialist candidate and former President Michelle Bachelet had nearly 50 percent of the vote in most polls, which would not be enough to claim victory outright and avoid a runoff with her longtime friend and right-wing candidate Evelyn Matthei.
Bachelet, 62, leads a coalition that includes the Communist Party and has campaigned on a platform of reducing the gap between rich and poor, which would include tax increases.
Matthei, who was getting about 30 percent in the polls, urged continuing the policies of outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, which she said had left Chile better off overall.
The BBC said while Chile is indeed one of the more prosperous nations in South America, there have been frequent street protests calling for an improvement in the lot of the poor and for better educational opportunities for all.
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