One of the most salient facts that’s been repeated over the course of this year’s presidential elections in Latin America — first Colombia, then Bolivia and, of course, Brazil last weekend — is that just two incumbents have lost reelection bids in more than three decades of growing regional democracy.
That’s true, of course.*
But many countries in Latin America limit presidents to a single lifetime term or, at least, prohibit reelection.
That’s the case in Uruguay, where presidents are not eligible for reelection, though they are eligible to run for a second non-consecutive term. That’s why Tabaré Vázquez, Uruguay’s former president, is the nominee of the leftist Frente Amplio (Broad Front) and why he nearly won the first round of the Uruguayan presidential election outright on Sunday.
Vázquez is vying to win a third consecutive term for Frente Amplio, following the administration of his former agricultural minister, José Mujica, who has pursued a more socially progressive agenda since 2010 than Vázquez implemented between 2005 and 2010. Vázquez, back in 2009, actually preferred that his finance minister to Mujica. But Mujica’s wide following on the Uruguayan left powered him to the coalition’s presidential nomination.
As president, Mujica (who was elected as a senator on Sunday) signed into law a bill legalizing abortion that Vázquez once vetoed. He has also, famously, introduced the most comprehensive marijuana legalization reforms within Latin America, while espousing an aura of almost extreme humility.
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Though a Vázquez restoration would hew Uruguayan policy slightly more to the center, the fate of Mujica’s efforts to legalize marijuana use and other policy matters, including a pledge to take in prisoners from the US facility on Guantánamo Bay, hinge on Vázquez’s victory in the November 30 runoff. Continue reading Vázquez charges into second round of Uruguayan vote