Unfortunately for Uruguay, the Swiss vote on minarets yesterday stole their potential headline-making runoff election (“Guerrilla leader elected President”) which resulted in the predictable election of former communist guerrilla member José Mujica over former right-wing President Luis Alberto Lacalle. In a first round held on October 28, José Mujica of the ruling Broad Front was far ahead of National Party (“white”) candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle, with around 48% against Lacalle’s 29%. However, Lacalle benefited from the support of most of the Colorado Party’s voters, whose candidate, Pedro Bordaberry had received around 17%. The PN and the Colorados, both right-wing parties, had ruled the country since independence, with the exception of military regimes here and there, until the election of the left in 2004.
Tainted by corruption and a brand of neoliberalism unpopular in the region, the experienced right-wing candidate faced a tough runoff against his well-liked down-to-earth left-wing rival.
José Mujica (FA) 52.60%
Luis Alberto Lacalle (PN) 43.33%
white and null votes 4.07%
José Mujica of the Broad Front becomes the second left-wing President in Uruguayan history. It remains to be seen if he will be similar in actions to his predecessor, Tabaré Vázquez, who was a member of the ‘moderate’ left-wing rulers in South America. His rhetoric was mostly humanist and opposed at the consumerist society of this era, but there was not much Chavez-like fiery rhetoric to his speeches. In addition, his running mate, Danilo Astori, is a rather centrist former finance minister. The Broad Front maintains a majority in both houses of Uruguayan Parliament.