Polls: Uruguay’s Tabare Vazquez, Lacalle Pou head to runoff election

The progressive measures implemented in Uruguay that have made president Jose Mujica the center of international attention could live on after polls show left-leaning candidate…
Polls: Uruguay’s Tabare Vazquez, Lacalle Pou head to runoff election

Uruguay’s president in 2008 Tabare Vazquez (L) attends a welcoming ceremony hosted by Israel’s president Shimon Peres at the Israeli President’s Office on August 25, 2008 in Jerusalem, Israel. Vazquez will face off in a runoff election against Luis Lacalle Pou November 30th for Uruguay’s presidential seat. (Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/IPO via Getty Images)

The progressive measures implemented in Uruguay that have made president Jose Mujica the center of international attention could live on after polls show left-leaning candidate Tabare Vazquez getting the most votes in Sunday’s presidential elections.

Exit polls in Uruguay indicate that the left-leaning candidate won the most votes in the presidential election, but fell short of the majority needed to declare victory. The 74-year-old president of the Broad Front Coalition (Coalicion Frente Amplio) will face off with Luis Lacalle Pou, of the National Party (Partido Nacional), who got the second most votes in the election.

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If elected in the November 30th runoff election Vazquez is expected to retain most of the changes implemented by Mujica–including the law that legalized the sale of marijuana in the country. Vazquez is of the same coalition as Mujica, who has been serving a term as Uruguay’s president since 2010, seeing the country through stability and considerable financial prosperity.

Luis Lacalle Pou casts his ballot in Uruguay's presidential elections.

Presidential candidate for the National Party Luis Lacalle Pou smiles before casting his vote in the general elections, in Canelones, Uruguay, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014. The runoff election between Lacalle Pou and Vazquez is expected to be tight. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

Pou, 41, is the son of a former president, and if elected promised to modify the law that led to the world’s first legal marijuana marketplace.

During Mujica’s presidency the country has seen broadening of social welfare programs, rising wages and economic growth, along with strengthened ties with Washington. Despite President Mujica’s high popularity rating, he’s barred by Uruguay’s constitution from running a second consecutive term.

Vazquez was a one-time president of Uruguay from 2005 to 2010, paving the way for Mujica to become president with his policies.

That’s why he is the preferred choice of voters who are happy with Mujica’s job, as noted by Reuters: “Vazquez, 74, brought the ruling Broad Front to power in 2005 and his blend of pro-market economic policies and social welfare measures that slashed poverty rates won broad support but he was constitutionally barred from a second consecutive term.

“Outgoing President Jose Mujica continued the model, which remains popular though many voters have become disenchanted with the scale of his liberal social reforms, including the legalization of marijuana production and distribution.”

Red Party (Partido Colorado) conservative candidate Senator Pedro Bordaberry wanted to change the law that legalized the marijuana marketplace altogether, while enacting other conservative reforms. However, his low numbers at the polls didn’t represent a threat to the two strongest candidates.

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One poll by Consultora Factum, reported by Reuters news, showed Broad Front’s Vazquez winning 46 percent of the vote, while Luis Lacalle Pou, of the national party with 31 percent. This is short of the 50 percent plus 1 majority that a candidate must win in order to be declared the outright victor of the elections.

Another poll conducted by Equipos Consultores had Vazquez with 44 percent and Lacalle Pou with 33 percent.

The November 30th runoff election is expected to be neck-and-neck between the two candidates according to polls conducted.

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