Uruguay polls open with former guerrilla favourite for president

Polling stations opened Sunday in Uruguay’s presidential election run-off. Jose Mujica – a former member of the leftist guerrilla group Tupamaros who spent 15 years in jail – was billed as the favourite, ahead of former Uruguayan president Luis Alberto Lacalle (1990-95).

Around 2.5 million Uruguayans were registered to vote, with polling stations scheduled to close at 2130 GMT.

Mujica, 74, is the nominee of the ruling leftist coalition Frente Amplio (Broad Front), and he won the first round of voting on October 25 with almost 48 per cent of the vote, compared to the conservative Lacalle’s 29 per cent.

The Frente Amplio first took power in 2004.

Outgoing President Tabare Vazquez led a successful reformist government during his five-year term that has retained the approval of about 60 per cent of the population, according to opinion surveys. However, he is banned from running because Uruguay’s laws forbid two consecutive terms.

The winner is to be inaugurated as president on March 1.


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