Uruguay Presidential Vote goes to Run-off

Uruguay Presidential Vote goes to Run-offUruguay Presidential Vote goes to Run-off

Leftist ruling coalition candidate Tabare Vazquez led Uruguay’s presidential election on Sunday but he fell short of a first-round victory and will go to a runoff vote next month.

Vazquez of the Broad Front coalition said as results trickled in that the race would go to a second round and he is likely to face a nerve-jangling contest against young center-right opposition candidate, Luis Lacalle Pou, the Globe and Mail reported.

Exit polls showed Vazquez winning 44-46 percent of the vote compared with 31-33 percent for Lacalle Pou of the National Party.

Pedro Bordaberry of the Colorado Party was expected to win about 14 percent and he quickly endorsed Lacalle Pou, meaning the runoff election on Nov. 30 could be close.

Vazquez, 74, first brought the Broad Front to power in 2005. 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.

His close ally and now outgoing President Jose Mujica continued the model, which remains popular with many.

But others have become disenchanted with the scale of Mujica’s social reforms, including the legalization of abortion, gay marriage and marijuana production and distribution.

“So we are killing babies now and the state will sell marijuana,” said Adriana Herrera, a 68-year-old pensioner. “My frustration is not just with the handout policies but also with the laws that have been approved that are terrible for the country.”

Lacalle Pou, 41, emerged as a strong candidate after an unexpected victory in his party’s primaries, and he campaigned on a platform of change. He told Reuters last week he would try to repeal the state-regulated production and sale of marijuana if he won.