Uruguay is a country located in the region of South America. After 15 years of left-wing rule in Uruguay, one of the traditional power parties resumed the presidential post. Luis Lacalle Pou took office in March 2020 and is supported by the General Right.
It was by a slight margin that the change of power got rid of. Left Alliance candidate Daniel Martínez received the most votes in the first round of elections and the result was very even in the second, despite the fact that the Blancoparty’s candidate Lacalle Pou was supported by virtually all excluded candidates (see Calendar). They gathered under the slogan “Stop the Left” and in the end Lacalle Pou won with only 37,000 overweight votes (see Calendar).
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Uruguay, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Luis Lacalle Pou, the son of former President Luis Lacalle (see Modern History), managed to snatch the presidential post in the second attempt – in the 2014 election he was defeated in the second round by the left’s Tabaré Vázquez. Lacalle Pou is a lawyer and has been the first member of the House of Representatives and since Senator since 2000, until August 2019. Lacalle Pou is considered a traditional conservative and has promised not to raise taxes and to introduce employment cuts in the public sector. He also wants to give the police increased resources and break the state monopoly on oil imports.
The new president has the support of an alliance with five political parties, from the center to the far right. In addition to the president’s own party, the Colorado Party and the newly formed Cabildo Abierto are the largest (see Political system).
In the congressional elections, which were held at the same time as the first round of the presidential elections in October 2019, the Left Alliance also backed the Breda Front (FA) and lost its former own majority in the House of Representatives, the congress’s second chamber.
The Left Alliance, which has won three previous elections in a row, has pursued a progressive policy that has drawn Uruguay’s attention abroad. Two FA presidents ruled: Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010 and 2015-2020) and, between the two periods, José Mujica. Under the Constitution, a sitting president may not run for re-election.
Not least during José Mujica’s time in power, several political decisions attracted considerable attention in the outside world. This was the case, among other things, in 2013 when, after intense debate, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to decide to completely legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana (or cannabis, the plant itself), even without medical reasons (see also Social Conditions). The purpose of the law was to overcome the criminal handling of the drug which is largely smuggled from Paraguay.
However, criticism of the cannabis law has been harsh from opponents both in the country and abroad. The UN drug body INCB claims that it violates international agreements. It has taken time to put the law into practice, but since 2017 cannabis is sold at pharmacies. Now, a licensed company is also in the starting pits to start exporting cannabis. About 30 countries in the world allow marijuana for medical use.
In 2012, Uruguay also became the second in Latin America (after Cuba) to allow free abortion and the following year second (after Argentina) to legalize same-sex marriage (see also Social conditions). The abortion law was adopted with a slight margin and despite bitter resistance. The same-sex marriage law, on the other hand, was adopted by a wide margin, despite the Catholic Church’s opposition to the law change.
For many, the reforms have reinforced Uruguay’s role as a liberal pioneer, with its roots in welfare and equality legislation a century earlier (see Older history). For a long time, the Broad Front had strong support – wages and pensions rose, health care became more accessible, poverty fell and growth was strong. But during the second term of Tabaré Vázquez, the pace of reform slowed and growth slowed substantially. The budget deficit and unemployment rose, and crime increased sharply. In the end, it was enough to stop the left.
Luis Lacalle Pou barely had more than access until the corona pandemic took hold of the world. The first four cases of coronary infection were detected in mid-March and the government then announced a state of emergency. Schools and borders were closed and residents were encouraged to isolate themselves as much as possible. Towards the end of May, news came that restrictions were on the way. Uruguay had so far managed mildly in the pandemic with about 750 corona cases and 20 deaths in covid-19.
Follow the ongoing event development in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Republic of Oriental del Uruguay / Republic of Uruguay
republic, unitary state
Head of State and Government
President Luis Lacalle Pou (2020–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Wide Front (FA) 42/13, Blanco Party 30/10, Colorado Party 13/4, Cabildo Abierto 11/3, Others 3/0 (2019) 1
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Broad Front (FA) 50/15, Blancopartiet 32/9, Colorado Party 13/4, Independent Party 3/1, popular agreement (UP) 1/0 (2014) 2
90.1 percent in the 2019 presidential and congressional elections
presidential and congressional elections 2024
- refers to mandate in the House of Representatives / Senate
2. see above