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Women Leading Presidential Opinion Polls In Chile

Recent opinion polls in Chile indicate two women, Michelle Bachelet and Soledad Alvear, are the top contenders to become the country's next president in elections slated for December 12.

Main parties have nominated the female candidates, placing them as front-runners for one to become Chile's first woman head of state. Polls show either could win against other known candidates if the election took place now.

Ms. Bachelet, a pediatrician and Chile's former defense minister, was imprisoned and says she was tortured after General Augusto Pinochet seized power in a military coup in 1973. Ms. Alvear is a lawyer and Chile's justice minister.

A predominantly Roman Catholic country of 16 million people, Chile is socially conservative, and has been accused of having a poor record on women's rights. Divorce was only legalized last year, and sexual harassment in the workplace only became outlawed in recent days.

Some information for this report provided by AP.