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O U R  A M E R I C A

Havana. November 7, 2014

Broad Front favored in second
round elections

Juan Manuel Karg

In Uruguay the political stage has already been reconfigured in regards to the second round of the presidential elections, which will take place on November 30.

Current President José Mujica (right) with Tabaré Vázquez (left).

While majority support for the Broad Front (Frente Amplio/FA) at 47.9% left Tabaré Vázquez on the verge of a win in the first round, the Colorado Party’s subsequent support for Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou from the National Party, also demonstrates that the traditional forces in Uruguay again aim to measure themselves up against the FA’s winning formula.

The Colorado support for Lacalle Pou was decided in a meeting of its Executive Committee, after a poor election result for this majority conservative faction: with just 12.9% of the vote – losing 4%, in comparison to 2009 - and also a loss with regards to their proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility for children in the referendum held in parallel to the presidential election.

On Sunday October 26, on learning of the adverse outcome, it was the Colorado presidential candidate himself, Pedro Bordaberry, who without hesitation expressed his support for Lacalle Pou, saying "I will work every day to ensure he wins the second round."

He was later shown up by local media, after being picked up by a microphone in the National Party’s bunker while shouting, "I came to see you destroy Tabaré Vázquez."

These actions – the sudden support for Pou of his own initiative, the microphone affair and above all, the bad election result - caused splits in the party, to the extent that Alberto Iglesias, member of the Executive Committee, resigned from his post.

Meanwhile, the Broad Front, overjoyed with the presidential results, but also with having been virtually guaranteed a majority in Congress – with 50 deputies and 15 senators and the possibility of Raúl Sendic joining the Senate should he be elected vice president – assured that they will convene a "citizen’s movement" in the run-up to the second ballot, according to Mónica Xavier, president of the party.

The proposal relates to a previous statement by Tabaré, who announced that he would seek the support of "batllistas and wilsonistas" - historical tendencies within the Colorado Party and nationalists, respectively, who are more ideologically in tune with the FA than others in both parties.

Iglesias, who resigned, is precisely part of that batllista tradition, and thus serves as an example for the Broad Front in their search for prospective voters and support, even within the traditional parties of Uruguay.

The forecast for the following weeks is therefore favorable for Tabaré and Sendic, who have the luxury of a less intense campaign than in the first round, in order "not to overdo it", as Xavier noted days ago.

The National Party, meanwhile, will unveil its new slogan - "Uruguay united for positive change" - vowing not to give up despite the difficulty of an election result already practically definite, with little room to reverse the democratic will clearly expressed on October 26, both in the presidential and legislative elections, and even in the referendum on the criminal responsibility of under 16 year olds, given that the FA was the only party of the main three to call for the triumphant "No to the lowering" vote.

"I was surprised by the vote for the Broad Front, I didn’t envision it," Lacalle Pou said, recognizing at the same time, "It will be very difficult to win the second round."

Those in the government of current President José Mujica, who was elected as a Senator in this election, have expressed their satisfaction for what was the first ratification at the polls of their work over the past four years.

The election was also a triumph for the former Tupamaro guerrilla’s own party, the Movement of Popular Participation, which along with seven other allies won more than half of the preferences of the FA under the motto "More Broad Front" and will thereby lead this force in Congress.

Mujica is therefore one of the big winners in the ruling party ahead of a second round that indicates a new Broad Front triumph – which would mark the third consecutive victory in the presidential elections in Uruguay.

Hence it is expected that he will play a key role in the remaining weeks before the vote, especially given that his approval ratings continue to grow: according to Equipos Mori polling company, this rating has already reached 56%. (Rebelión)

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