All this despite the fact that president Jose Mujica, who can’t be re-elected but enjoys strong popularity both at home and overseas, has been openly campaigning for the candidates of the ruling coalition. The latest polls indicate that the incumbent ticket of former president Tabare Vazquez (74) and Raul Sendic (54) are leading in the range of 40% to 42% of vote intention, but a formidable and unexpected young contender has emerged, Luis Lacalle Pou, 41, and his conservative National party. Legislator and lawyer Lacalle Pou has a vote intention above 32% and has made the Sunday event, unthinkable only six months ago, in the most competitive election since democracy returned to Uruguay in 1985. ”Uruguay’s financial crisis of 2002 left Uruguay divided in a centre left half with a floor of 40% of the electorate and another 40% centre right.
In 2004 the left wing Broad Front coalition won the national election because the electorate basically blamed the so called traditional parties for the banking crisis (an over spill from Argentina)“ argues political scientist Daniel Chasquetti. And five years later, in 2009 president Vazquez who was stepping down with an unprecedented support and acknowledgement, helped Mujica win the election since he was considered ‘continuity but also with a touch of novelty’.
But ten years later and despite the fact that the Broad Front managed a decade of economic growth, a drop in unemployment to 6% and a reduction in poverty indexes, ”an estimated 5% of the electorate is moving to more radical or more moderate minority groups, making the election more competitive”.
Since in Uruguay consecutive re-election is banned and none of the candidates is expected to obtain more than 50% of the ballots next Sunday, in that event a runoff is scheduled for November 30.