Chile conservative ruling bloc picks new candidate

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile’s conservative governing bloc has picked the labor minister to replace its presidential candidate, who dropped out of the race four months before the election because of depression.

Labor Minister Evelyn Matthei was tapped Saturday to take over from former economy minister Pablo Longueria in what appears to be an uphill fight against popular former President Michelle Bachelet of the Socialist Party. Opinion polls give her a strong lead for the Nov. 17 presidential vote.

Longueria quit the campaign Wednesday, and his son said the candidate suffers from severe depression. His resignation further weakened the chances of the conservative bloc against Bachelet.

The ruling coalition formed by the conservative Independent Democratic Union and the center-right National Renovation is Chile’s first conservative government since the country’s return to democracy in 1990.

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