Press Memorandum: Presidential Elections in Uruguay on October 31

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Council On Hemispheric Affairs

Monitoring Political, Economic and Diplomatic Issues Affecting the Western Hemisphere

Memorandum to the Press 04.76


Word Count: 1200

Weekend Release
Friday, 22 October 2004


This essay was authored by COHA Senior Research Fellow Rebecca Evans, PhD. Dr. Evans is also on the Politics and International Relations faculty at Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA.



Presidential Elections in Uruguay on October 31

On October 31, Uruguayans vote for a new President and Broad Front candidate Tabaré Vásquez is on the path to become the country’s first leftist president.

Vásquez’s election would mark a shift towards a left-of-center government, which would be in large part due to the failed economic policies of his conservative predecessors. Most Uruguayans are weary of privatization and other neo-liberal reforms, an issue which Vásquez has come out strongly against.

• While the conservative Blanco candidate Jorge Larrañaga is his main competitor, Vásquez’s promise to fight poverty and act pragmatically, while pursuing leftist social policies, makes him likely to come out on top.

Last-minute, down-to-the-wire campaigning … controversy over presidential debates … polls that swing back and forth in their estimates of the outcome of upcoming elections … Although the U.S. electorate and the eyes of much of the rest of the world are focused on the race between George W. Bush and John Kerry, another election is heating up in the Southern hemisphere as Uruguayans head to the polls on October 31. The elections in
Uruguay, of course, will not have huge global repercussions, but they do hold out the possibility that Uruguay may join the long list of Latin American countries that have elected left-leaning presidents to power. The front-runner in Uruguay’s upcoming elections is Tabaré Vázquez of the Encuentro ProgresistaFrente Amplio (Progressive Encounter- Broad Front), a coalition of social democrats, communists, social Christians, radicals and ex-Tupamaro guerrilla fighters. If Vázquez wins on October 31 - or, in the event that he fails to secure an outright majority, in run-off elections scheduled for November 29 - he would be the first left-wing president in Uruguay’s history.


This analysis was prepared by Rebecca Evans, Ph.D, COHA Senior Research Fellow.

October 22, 2004

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