In the weeks preceding Uruguay’s October 26th presidential elections, the capital of Montevideo was blanketed in political advertisements. Billboards for Tabaré Vázquez (pictured), who was president from 2004 to 2009 and belongs to the current ruling party, the Broad Front, read: “Uruguay will not be stopped.” For a while, however, it looked like Mr Vázquez might be. Pollsters predicted he would not collect the 50% of votes needed to avoid a run-off, where they thought Luis Lacalle Pou, a flowing-haired, centre-right 41-year-old lawyer and son of a former Uruguayan president, might scrape a victory. In Uruguay “it is very rare for governments to increase their support base while in power,” says Adolfo Garcé, a political scientist at the University of Social Sciences in Montevideo. Put more simply, “what comes up must come down,” says Luis Eduardo Gonzalez of Cifra, a polling group.
But it seems Mr Vázquez and the Broad Front will prevail this time. Having fetched 48% of votes, Mr Vázquez’s performance was better than anticipated and he now seems likely to reclaim the presidency when second-round elections are held on November 30th. The fact that Mr Vázquez’s Broad Front held on to its slim majority in parliament has virtually sealed his victory. Uruguayans are unlikely to plump for Mr Lacalle Pou if his plans are guaranteed to be consistently shot down.
Several factors favored Mr Vázquez in this election. First, he was a relatively popular president who presided over Uruguay during the height of the commodities bonanza. As growth begins to sag, people associate him with boom times and trust his financial savvy. Uruguay’s constitution does not allow for consecutive terms and therefore Mr Vázquez was forced to hand off power in 2009, but he left with a good reputation.
Full Article: Uruguay’s election: A broad front advances | The Economist.