Category Archives: Uruguay
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.
Uruguay voted in a general election for its President, its 99-seat Chamber of Deputies and 31-seat Senate. In addition, two referendums were held, including one on revoking the amnesty law prohibiting all criminal inquiries into crimes perpetrated under the military dictatorship (1973-1985).
Uruguay has been dominated by two parties since independence: the conservative National Party (PN), commonly known as the whites (blancos) and the liberal Colorado Party (PC), also known as the reds. In that way, Tabaré Vázquez’s election as President of Uruguay in 2004 was a truly historical feat: he was the first President, save for (right-wing) military generals, not from either the PN or PC. Vázquez was the candidate of the much younger left-wing Broad Front (FA), a coalition of the left going from the centre-left/Christian left to the hard-left and the Communist Party. Tabaré Vázquez, who cannot run for a second consecutive term, was often classified as one of the ‘moderate’ left-wing Latin American leaders. He led a successful anti-poverty agenda, and Uruguay’s economic outlook is less bleak than most countries in the region and the world. Despite factions of his party favouring a liberalization of the country’s strict abortion laws, he vetoed attempts to liberalize abortion in Uruguay.
The candidate of the Broad Front is Senator José Mujica, a former rebel on the left of the coalition with an anti-consumerist and humanist philosophical message. He defeated Danilo Astori, the centrist ex-Economy Minister, though Astori is Mujica’s running mate.
Former President Luis Alberto Lacalle (1990-1995), who led a neoliberal economic policy, was nominated as the White (PN) candidate. Jorge Larrañaga, defeated by Vázquez is Lacalle’s running mate. Lacalle, despite executive experience, is tainted by corruption scandals.
Pedro Bordaberry, the son of former dictator-President Juan M. Bordaberry was nominated as the PC’s candidate. He chose former soccer player and coach Hugo de León as his running mate. There were two minor candidates: Pablo Mieres of the christian socialist Independent Party and Raúl Rodríguez of the far-left Popular Assembly.
Uruguay counts white and invalid votes in the final tally. The final results are:
José Mujica (FA) 48.16%
Luis Alberto Lacalle (PN) 28.94%
Pedro Bordaberry (PC) 16.90%
Pablo Mieres (PI) 2.47%
Raúl Rodríguez (AP) 0.67%
white and null votes 2.18%
Unlike in 2004, a runoff will be held opposing Mujica and Lacalle. This is due in large part due to the Colorado’s good showing, and it is likely Bordaberry will back Lacalle over Mujica, although polls say Mujica would defeat Lacalle in a runoff and most other indicators say Mujica, helped by Vázquez’s popularity more than anything, should win and the anti-leftist coalition between whites and reds which defeated Vázquez in 1999.
In the Chamber of Deputies, the FA keeps its overall majority:
FA 50 (-2)
PN 30 (-6)
PC 17 (+7)
PI 2 (+1)
In the Senate, the FA also keeps its overall majority, barely. There are only 30 seats allocated as of now, as the Vice President sits in the Senate.
FA 16 (-1)
PN 9 (-2)
PC 5 (+2)
PI 2 (+1)
The referendum on repealing the amnesty law failed, barely, with 47.36% in favour. A referendum giving a postal vote to Uruguayans abroad failed by a much larger margin, with only 36.93% in favour.