Leftist successor to Jose Mujica wins presidency of Uruguay

Tabare Vazquez candidate for the governing Broad Party won in a runoff election against his opponent Luis Lacalle Pou of the right-leaning National Party.

In the first round of voting on October 26th Vazquez, who was also president between 2005-2010 received 47.8 percent of votes cast, just short of the majority needed to avoid a second round. Pou, the son of former president Luis Lacalle, received just 30.9 percent of the vote. Pou, who is 42, tried to represent himself as the candidate of youth. Vazquez is 74. The well-known incumbent president Jose Mujica a member of the same party as Vasquez is 79. Pou did gymnastic routines for photographers and challenged Vazquez to follow suit. This was all to no avail since Vazquez won the youth vote in all sectors during the first round of voting. Pou was aiming at the 250,000 new voters since the last presidential election.
 In the runoff elections, Vazquez received 52.8 percent of the vote while Pou received 41 percent. Jose Mujica the incumbent president is barred by the Uruguayan constitution from running for a second consecutive term. Mujica is sill quite popular. During his presidency the economy grew at a good pace and he was also able to introduce social reforms such as the legalization of marijuana and of gay marriage, and abortion. He was also renowned for his simple style of living. He refused to live in the presidential palace but remained on his farm where he grew his own vegetables and donated much of his salary to charity.
 The state-run marijuana project will survive. Vazquez' opponent would have done away wih the program. Vazquez also pledged to increase social spending and continue economic growth. However, Vazquez also promised to fight crime and reform education two areas in which Mujica's presidency was seen to be lacking. Polls actually show that the marijuana laws are opposed by a majority of Uruguayans. This opposition did not seem to help Pou's campaign win over Vazquez.
 Vazquez says he will go ahead with the plan to have the government regulate production, distribution and sale of marijuana on a national scale unless it produced negative results. While Pou said he would abandon the state plan, he also would allow domestic cultivation. Pou phoned Vazquez to congratulate him as the results came in. As supporters poured into the streets in celebration Vazquez said:" I want to be able to count on all Uruguayans, but not so they follow me but so they guide me, accompany me,"


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