Elections in Uruguay 2009: “El Pepe” Mujica Wins

José Alberto Mujica Cordano, also known has “El Pepe”, won the presidency of Uruguay last night in the second round of voting.  In this article, we will look at why he won and why the elections went to a second vote when they should not have.

Uruguay currently has three main political parties:  the Blancos (or national party), the Colorados, and Frente Amplio, which in English stands for “wide front”.

Historically, there were only the first two parties, the Blancos and the Colorados.  However, after a dictatorship and poor leadership by these parties, Frente Amplio was born and won the elections in 2005 with the candidate and now sitting president Tabaré Vázquez in 2005.

Last night, José Mujica won the precedential elections in the second round of voting.  Since there are three political parties, one party must garner at least 50% of the vote in the first round or there is a run-off–a second-round–one month later to determine who will win the presidency.  Last night was this second round and “El Pepe” won, but it should never have reached a second round of voting.

The current government of Uruguay under Tabaré Vázquez has enjoyed a large amount of success, both locally and throughout South America, and currently maintains approval ratings of more than 65%.  Thus, the question that needs to be asked is:  Why did Frente Amplio not win the elections in the first round if they currently have such a high approval rating?

The answer is both simple and complicated.  In the simplest form, they put forward the wrong candidate.  However, the reasons that he was the wrong candidate are complicated.

Many people will tell you that “El Pepe” does not look or appear presidential.  Others will tell you his language is crude and that his outlook is backward, not forward.  These things may all be true.  It’s difficult to imagine him on the world stage with other leaders.

But the truth as to why he was the wrong candidate goes much deeper.

From 1972 to 1985, Uruguay was ruled by a dictatorship.  Some say that this dictatorship was brought on by the selfish needs of the governing Colorado party.  Others, however, claim that this dictatorship was a reaction to the terrorist activities of a group named the Tuparmaros, of which José Mujica was a member.  When the dictatorship assumed power, they jailed Mujica for 13 years.

Now, he has returned as President.

Uruguayans by nature are a fairly moderate people.  This is why Frente Amplio was able to win the elections in 2005.  They put forward a moderate candidate in Tabaré Vázquez (who is also a practicing oncologist) who shared their ideas of progress and benevolence.

Uruguayans want more of this, more Frente Amplio, but they spoke their minds in these elections.  José Mujica had precious little competition in this election.  The Colorado candidate, Pedro Bordaberry, is the son of the man who initiated the dictatorship in Uruguay.  The Blanco candidate, Alberto LaCalle, is said to have actually robbed the country’s asset when he was president from 1990-1995.  And finally, with a 65% approval rating for his party in power, José Mujica should have won the first round of voting easily.

But he did not.  The Uruguayan people, who are required to vote by law or pay a fine, did not allow it.

What they essentially said is this:  We want more of the Frente Amplio Party.  We like what has been happening in Uruguay.  But we want to move on from the past…from both the dictatorship and opposition to the dictatorship.  We will give “El Pepe” this chance, but he better continue on the current path towards the future and not look back to our unpleasant past.

Hopefully, voters were reassured in Pepe’s victory speech last night when he focused on unity for all Uruguayans and a continuation of the current policies of progress and benevolence.

Richard Tyler is a writer, technologist, and traveler who chronicles his thoughts and opinions on his daily blog Live Your Way. He writes extensively about one of his favorite topics, Living in Uruguay.

Article Source:http://www.articlesbase.com/politics-articles/elections-in-uruguay-2009-el-pepe-mujica-wins-1521445.html

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