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Uruguay: Presidential Election Heads for Runoff

Presidential elections in Uruguay were held on Sunday, October 25, and no one can say who will become the next President because no candidate received the required majority (50% + 1). In this situation, the election will go to the next round in a run-off election on November 29, 2009.

The Broad Front candidate, Senator José Mujica, was the closest to the majority needed receiving 48.16% of the votes. In second place, the National Party candidate Luis A. Lacalle, received 28.9% of the vote, still giving him a chance to win and who will face Mujica in the run-off election. In third place, the Colored Party received 16.66% of the vote, considered to be an internal victory for its followers. This party had fallen in past elections, after being the governing party for many years. Now, under the leadership of Pedro Bordaberry, the son of ex-dictator Juan M. Bordaberry, the party has grown more than expected as indicated in earlier surveys.

Graphic by Jorge Oyhenard and used with permission.

Graphic by Jorge Oyhenard and used with permission.

The 4th political party, the Independent Party, did not achieve the necessary percentage to obtain a Senate seat, receiving only 2.47% of the vote. It did, however, manage to elect two deputies to Parliament.

The reactions from the various parties were surprising, as noted by the blog Asi Ta'l Mundo Botija [es], who makes references to the contradictions. The party that celebrated the most was the one that received the least number of votes, and on the contrary, those who received the highest percentage appeared to be sad:

Muchos se lo tomaron como sorpresa o como triunfo, y no fue, a mi entender, “ni chicha ni limonada”. Por lo menos para mi no fue sorpresa. Que había quienes pensaban (o soñaban) que el Frente Amplio ganaba en primera vuelta, cierto. Pero no creo que esa gente deba estar triste. Por otro lado, el Partido Nacional logró menos del 30% que estimaban las encuestadoras; sin embargo el festejo de muchos de sus simpatizantes fue como si hubieran ganado la copa del mundo. Y los del Partido Colorado también festejaron y mucho. Fue el tercero en el conteo de votos, pero así es este país.

Many took (the results) as a surprise or as a victory, and it was not, in my understanding, “not one or the other.” At least for me, it was not a surprise. There were those who thought (or dreamed) that the Broad Front would win in the first round. I don't think those people should be sad. On the other hand, the National Party received less than the 30% predicted by the surveys; nevertheless, the celebration by many of their followers were as if they had won the World cup. The Colored Party also celebrated a lot. They came in third place after the vote tally, that is how this country is.

He also provides some thoughts on why the Broad Front did not win outright in the first round:

Bueh, aunque se me enojen algunos lectores, pienso que uno de los factores es que la fórmula debió ser al revés. O sea, Astori a Presidente y Mujica a Vice. Mujica es un tipo al que admiro. Dice las cosas de frente, no es políticamente correcto, no es tan hipócrita o falluto, como venimos acostumbrados por estos lares. Pero … La gente lo eligió, por encima de Astori, quien tiene lo dicho por Mujica, más que es el tipo que más sabe de economía en este país, reconocido por gente de la oposición. Esto le hubiese bastado para atraer gente de otros sectores políticos.

Well, even though I may make some readers angry, I think one of the reasons was that the ticket should have been the other way around. In other words, (Danilo) Astori for President and Mujica for Vice-President. I admire Mujica. He says things in a straightforward manner, he is not politically correct, he is not that much of a hypocrite or a person that fails, which are things we are accustomed to around here. But … the people elected him over Astori, even though (Astori) is the person who knows the most about the economy in this country, recognized by the opposition. This would have been enough to attract people from other political sectors.

However, another blogger known as La Ciudadana (The Citizen) wrote in her blog Qué pasa Uruguay? [es] that the Broad Front should think about what went wrong:

El Frente Amplio, sin embargo, deberá tener autocrítica, deberán pensar un poco dónde se equivocaron, porque contaban con el 60% de aprobación al presidente (cosa que dudo y dudaré), contaron con todo el aparato propagandístico del gobierno que hasta el día antes, estuvo poniendo su cuota de apoyo, contaron con mucho dinero para la propaganda, con la salida de los ministros haciendo también lo suyo, en fin, contaban con un aparato importante en su beneficio, pero igualmente no llegaron, fue un día negro si se quiere, porque aparentemente no lograron mayorías parlamentarias, no se si se confirmó ya o aún no, no lograron sacar los pleibiscitos adelante, y no ganaron en primera vuelta que era su principal objetivo.

The Broad Front, however, should self-criticize itself, it should think a little bit about where they went wrong, because they had 60% approval rates of the (current President Tabaré Vásquez from the Broad Front party) President (something I doubt and will doubt), they had all of the propaganda apparatus of the government that up until a day before the elections, had been contributing its support, they had a lot of money for advertising, with the Cabinet also campaigning, in the end, they had an important apparatus for its benefit, but all the same, they did not reach the necessary number of votes, it was a dark day, one might say, because apparently they did not reach parliamentarian majorities, which is not yet confirmed, they did not win in the referenda, and they did not win in the first round, which was the primary goal.
Graphic by Jorge Oyhenard and used with permission.

Graphic by Jorge Oyhenard and used with permission.

In Parliament, there was suspense from the public whether any party would obtain the majority of the seats. The Broad Front Party will have 16 seats in the Senate, while the National Party and Colored Party gained 9 seats and 5 seats, respectively. In the Chamber of Deputies, there will be 50 representatives from the Broad Front Party, 30 National Party members, 17 Colored Party members, and 2 from the Independent Party.

The blog Mujeres y Elecciones 2009 en Uruguay [es] (Women and Elections 2009 in Uruguay) has been providing coverage about issues affecting Uruguayan women throughout the campaign, and notes that 6 women Senators had been elected from the Broad Front party.

The strategies for the next round [es] has already started. According to surveys, it is expected that the Broad Front Party will continue to govern the country and that Mujica will win the run-off election. The Colored Party candidate, Bordaberry, has already said publicly that he will support Lacalle [es]. The blog Visión Universitaria [es] alludes to this union of the Colorado and National Parties, calling them the “Rosados” (the Pinks). However, even with this support, it does not appear that the National Party candidate will have enough votes to beat Mujica.

Translation by Eduardo Ávila

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