Daughter of Chile's Allende eyes presidential bid in 2017

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Isabel Allende, a ruling party senator in Chile and the daughter of deposed ex-president Salvador Allende, said she is considering running for president in next year’s elections, a local newspaper reported on Saturday.

Isabel Allende, daughter of former Chilean President Salvador Allende who was killed during a coup d'etat in 1973, speaks during a interview with Reuters-TV inside the Chilean congress in Valparaiso city, about 121 km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, May 19, 2011. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez

Allende’s possible bid for the top job in Chile could pit her against ex-president Ricardo Lagos, another member of the socialist ruling party who has expressed interest in running.

Allende, whose father was ousted by former dictator Augusto Pinochet in a coup in 1973, said she has been leaning toward making a bid at the insistence of Chileans, according to local daily El Mercurio.

“For me it’s an honor to know that people think I’m an option. There’s also a potent symbolic element, that there be another Allende,” she was quoted as saying in El Mercurio.

She did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Allende, a distant relative of the well-known author of the same name, is one of the few representatives of the ruling party whose popularity has not sunk alongside President Michele Bachelet’s.

Bachelet’s approval rating hit an all-time low last month amid widening student unrest, the resignation of her cabinet chief and a sluggish economy.

Allende’s remarks come a day after Lagos, president from 2000-2006, said he was eyeing participating in the 2017 presidential race.

“I’m thinking about it,” Lagos said on local broadcaster Pudahuel. “There are days when I feel like I must do it.”

Allende and Lagos would have to compete for their party’s nomination in primary elections early next year. The general presidential election is in November of 2017.

Another ex-president, conservative Sebastian Pinera, has also said he is considering running again.

Bachelet cannot run for another term in 2017 because of constitutional term limits.

The Allende surname still resonates strongly in Chile more than four decades after Salvador Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace rather than surrender to armed forces mounting a coup.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Sandra Maler