SANTIAGO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Center-left Michelle Bachelet cruised to victory in Sunday's runoff election, as Chileans voted overwhelmingly for her plan of ambitious reforms that will seek to redress income inequality in the Andean country.
To deliver, she will need deft political operators to steer her reform blitz through Congress and negotiate with a coalition that ranges from moderate Christian Democrats to Communists closely tied to powerful student movements. But she will also need experts to deal with easing economic growth in the mining powerhouse.
Bachelet, who governed Chile from 2006 to 2010, has remained coy about who might make up her government. Her advisors on the campaign trail are not guaranteed a job once she takes office in March, and dark horses could well emerge.
Following are brief biographies of some of those seen poised to pick up a ministerial job, based on commentary by analysts and local media.
As one of Bachelet's most trusted advisors and the public face of her economic program, the 48 year-old economist and academic is seen as the closest thing to a sure bet in her government. He is tipped as the likely finance minister, thanks to his economic know-how and nimble political maneuvering. Arenas, from the socialist party, was head of the budget during Bachelet's first term. He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Pittsburgh.
The 49 year-old economist and professor was the head of Chile's market regulator during Bachelet's first term and a close economic advisor during her 2013 campaign. Though a moderate, he contributed to a book called "The Other Model," which hones in on malaise in Chile's free-market economy. That could help her government gain legitimacy with protest movements, left-leaning parts of Bachelet's coalition and independents in Congress. Larrain's name has surfaced for the top job in the Economy and Tourism Ministry.
Another key economic advisor during the campaign, Micco is also seen as a potential candidate for the Economy Ministry. He has worked in the Finance Ministry and the central bank and has a doctorate in economics from Harvard University.
With Chile facing a power crunch as production fails to keep pace with demand and the key mining industry worries over an energy shortfall, the Energy Ministry will be crucial for Bachelet. Bitran, a previous Public Works minister, has been mentioned as the potential man for the job this time around. The 56 year-old engineer was one of the architects of her energy policy during the campaign.
The 65 year-old former Defense Minister under Bachelet is eyed as a potential Foreign Minister. Goni has been ambassador to the United States, Sweden, Italy and Mexico. The post will require keen diplomacy, with a decision from the Hague on a maritime border spat with neighboring Peru likely to cause controversy in 2014. Chile also begins a stint on the United Nations Security Council in January.
A 44 year-old socialist and lawyer, Elizalde was Bachelet's seemingly ubiquitous spokesman during the campaign. A political veteran who enjoys significant clout in Bachelet's clan, he is expected to continue as spokesman.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Felipe Iturrieta and Alexandra Ulmer Editing by W Simon)