Uruguay Heads to the Polls; Tight Race Expected

October 28, 2019 Updated: October 28, 2019

MONTEVIDEO, UruguayUruguayans headed to vote on Oct. 27 in the South American country’s general election, with the liberal coalition that has ruled for more than 14 years facing its toughest challenge yet from a resurgent conservative right.

The nation, famed for its beef exports and legal cannabis industry, will elect the president and vice president as well as members of both the upper and lower congressional chambers.

There are 11 candidates in Uruguay’s presidential race in total, and a close race was expected. The front-runners—engineer and former mayor of Montevideo, Daniel Martínez, 62, of the Broad Front ruling coalition, and lawyer Luis Lacalle Pou, 46, of the right-leaning National Party—rounded off their campaigns on Oct. 23 with massive rallies.

If Pou takes the helm, the result could bring a further retreat in the region of the so-called Pink Tide of leftists that have included Bolivias Evo Morales and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro. However, in larger neighbor Argentina, a leftist victory for Alberto Fernandez over President Mauricio Macri is thought likely to rebalance the scales.

Ahead of the election, Martínez was polling at between 40 percent and 43 percent, while Lacalle was in second place with between 25 percent and 28 percent.

If no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, the two with the most votes will meet again on the last Sunday of November for a runoff. The third- and fourth-placed candidates have said they will lend their vote share to whoever runs against Martinez, potentially providing Pou with a boost in the second round.

By Fabien Werner