Senator José Mujica of the Broad Front coalition received 47.5 percent of the vote and ex-President Luis Alberto Lacalle finished with 28.5 percent of ballots in Uruguay’s presidential election on Sunday. The top two candidates, with neither securing at least 50 percent support, will face off in the second round of voting on November 29. Running a distant third, Colorado Party candidate Pedro Bordaberry received 17 percent of votes.
Mujica assured his supporters of a clean sweep saying, “We have more support than the other top two parties combined…How can we not be happy about the indisputable fact that we are headed to victory.” Lacalle issued a similar message: “We will be in control of the executive branch on November 29.”
Official reports set voter turnout at 90 percent of the country’s eligible 2.6 million voters. Mujica, 74, plans to continue many of the policies from the administration of President Vázquez while Lacalle, 68, who was president from 1990 to 1995, campaigned to remove Vázquez’ income tax and downsize the government.
Mujica was a leader of the Tupamaros, a guerilla group that opposed military rule, before being imprisoned for 15 years and eventually released in a 1985 amnesty. Since then, he has helped transform the group into a legitimate political movement. Lacalle is a former lawyer and part of the Uruguayan political elite who helped found the Mercosur trading bloc.
The incoming president will assume office on March 1, 2010.