Leftist former president Tabare Vazquez and his center-right rival Luis Lacalle Pou will head into a November 30 runoff after a presidential vote failed to deliver an outright winner, results showed Monday. President Jose Mujica will be succeeded either by his Broad Front ally Vazquez, who earned 45.5 percent of the vote, or the National Party’s Lacalle Pou, who garnered 32 percent, election officials said Monday, having completed a manual count of 78 percent of ballot boxes. Some Vazquez supporters had hoped he could squeeze out an absolute majority, but he fell short. Compounding their disappointment, his party was also seen as potentially losing its control over the legislature, projections showed. After preliminary results were announced, thousands of Broad Front supporters nonetheless filled July 18 Avenue, the main street in downtown Montevideo, honking horns and waving flags.
The election was touted as possibly deciding the fate of Uruguay’s world-first marijuana law. It legalized the drug, and aimed to establish a regulated market in which users could grow it at home, buy it from pharmacies or source it from “cannabis clubs”.
The law, Mujica’s landmark legislative initiative, was passed last December. But implementation is off to a rocky start, and it faces an uncertain future because Lacalle Pou opposes the law.
And even Vazquez, who made anti-smoking legislation the centerpiece of his own presidency, has questioned it and said he would not hesitate to make changes.
“I figured the voting results would go more or less this way,” Mujica said on Uruguayan television Sunday evening.