Uruguayans elect their next president Sunday with polls suggesting the
centre-right National Party is on course to end 15 years of left-wing rule,
delivering another power shift to a troubled region.
With allusions to the economic crisis in neighbouring Argentina, calls to
unity, and crossing of harsh critics, the two hopefuls closed their campaigns on
Wednesday. Former senator Luís Lacalle Pou, the son of a former president, is
currently favourite to become Uruguay’s next leader.
A career politician with almost two
decades experience in Congress –
and a failed bid for the presidency
in 2014 also on his record – Lacalle
Pou has made restoring investor
confidence via spending cuts a key
policy proposal. Advisers to the opposition candidate promise to reduce wasteful spending by US$900
million in 2020 alone.
The 46-year-old lawyer highlighted
the “urgency” of solving problems,
necessities, and “worries” of the
Uruguayan population, who cite insecurity as their main concern in a
country confronting a public safety
crisis as 2018 saw a record 414 homicides.
Building a coalition of opposition
parties ranging from the right to
leftist social-democrats, polls indicate Lacalle Pou should receive over
50 percent of the vote in Sunday’s
“We are five parties, one commitment to the country. That is what
we’re going to accomplish,” he promised in front of thousands of supporters at his closing campaign rally
In contrast, former mayor of Montevideo and engineer Daniel Martínez, attacked his rivals, stating they
had united “only to face” his party
and denying they would deliver a
The Frente Amplio (“Broad Front”)
candidate has been reminding voters of his party’s longer record,
dating back to 2005. Yet his party’s
popularity has not helped the presidential hopeful in accruing more
Martínez represents the more moderate and centre-left wing of the
Broad Front, which is a coalition of
social democrats, communists,
Christian democrats and former
Martínez earned the most votes in
the first round in October, topping
Lacalle Pou 39 percent to 29 percent.
But in the days that followed, Lacalle
Pou formed an alliance with the Partido Colorado, which earned 12 percent in the first round, with Cabildo
Abierta that scored 11 percent and
with two smaller parties, each of
which earned one percent.
If Lacalle Pou wins Sunday, the
coalition’s lifespan will depend to a
large degree on his performance as
president, political scientist and
consultant Fernanda Boidi told
Bloomberg this week.
“If the government doesn’t do well
there are incentives to leave earlier,”
she said. “As we approach the next
election cycle coalition leaders
would have more of an incentive to
break away from Lacalle Pou.
Despite support from Argentine
President-elect Alberto Fernández,
Martínez has been unable to secure
the support of additional parties.
Fernández met with party leader
and President Tabaré Vasdquéz on
November 14 and formally endorsed Martínez’s candidacy. The two
have been in contact, with Martínez
pointing to his close relationship
with the Argentine official up to the
closure of his campaign.
Voting is obligatory for Uruguay’s
2.7 million registered voters. Polls
close at 7.30pm local time, with preliminary results expected later tomorrow evening.
The winner will start his five-year
term March 1, 2020.