Uruguay’s junior opposition Colorado party has recommended its followers to support Conservative presidential candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle for the November 29th run-off with the ruling coalition’s Jose Mujica.
Given “the unequivocal and clear commitment” to respect the Constitution and the rule of law “we recommend to vote” for the National party ticket at the November 29 second presidential round, announced on Wednesday night the Executive Committee from the Colorado party following several hours discussions.
In the first round the incumbent ticket of former guerrilla Jose Pepe Mujica and economist Danilo Astori garnered 48% of the vote, sufficient to ensure a congressional majority but short of the 50% plus one vote demanded for the presidential post
The Colorado party however will not campaign jointly with Mr. Lacalle , although their leader Pedro Bordaberry will tour the country to express support but again with no shared rallies or agreement previous to the final round.
In last Sunday’s first round the Colorados managed to almost double their 2004 showing having jumped to 17% of the vote according to the primary official vote count. This however was achieved at the expense of the senior opposition member that with a showing of 29%, lost six to seven points compared to five years ago.
Bordaberry the youngest of the presidential hopefuls, 50, advanced his “personal support” to Lacalle last Sunday night when it was confirmed that the ruling catch-all left leaning coalition which extends from the Christian Democrats to former guerrillas, had been unable to repeat the 50.6% of October 2004 when the victory of President Tabare Vazquez.
“It’s not against the Broad Front or the Independents, but I believe Mr. Lacalle gives us the certainties and assurances we need”, said Bordaberry, son of a former dictator currently imprisoned.
Two former Colorado presidents also expressed support for Lacalle who ruled for the National party from 1990 to 1995.
“I do not share at all the ideological proposal of Mr. Mujica”, said ex President Jorge Batlle (2000/2005). His peer Julio Maria Sanguinetti said the “National party candidate offers more certainties, more guarantees since the candidate of the left wing coalition represents other values, other ways of making politics”.
According to the first round results, 48% for the Broad Front; 29% for the National party; 17% for the Colorados and 2% for the Independents, the Mujica-Astori ticket is better positioned to defeat Mr. Lacalle and his companion Senator Jorge Larrañaga.
This could be particularly evident since during the electoral campaign the National party ticket lost an estimated ten points, most of which ended up in the Colorado party, and this is partly attributed to the fact that many followers of Senator Larrañaga did not sympathize with former president Lacalle.
Anyhow there’s still a month ahead and looking back the current presidential campaign has been full of blunders and mistakes from both main candidates.
Furthermore the support for the former guerrilla leader (74) turned presidential hopeful is at least 12 points below that of the outgoing president Tabare Vázquez, who in October 2004 was elected in the first round.
Commenting on Sunday’s results Mujica said Uruguay was “divided in two halves”, a “kind of pink party and the Broad Front”. The colour reference responds to the white of the National Party and the red of the Colorados.
“The run off is very demanding, very exhausting and we are going for it. We are confident”, said Mujica.
The latest reports indicate that the incumbent ticket plans to take the campaign overseas including a visit to Spain “to show that the Broad Front candidate has international acceptance”, a recurrent criticism from the rest of the political spectrum (and inside the coalition) given Mr. Mujica’s guerrilla past and his rather coarse language and style of making politics.
Actually President Vazquez had anticipated long before the election that he preferred the inverted ticket, Astori/Mujica, but his indication and desire as leader of the Broad Front turned into wishful thinking by the successful web knitting of Mujica with different groups inside the coalition, mainly the Communist party and other radical groups.