Uruguayans will pick a successor to President Tabare Vazquez on Sunday as well as voting on crime-busting constitutional reform to establish a national guard force and create full life terms for the most serious offenses.
Uruguay's security situation has been deteriorating since Vazquez took office. In 2018, the country registered a record 414 murders, up 45% on the year before. This is equivalent to 11.8 killings per 100.000, and is double the US rate.
Citizens also suffered over 30,000 violent robberies and/or mugging when president Vazquez had promised that at the end of his five year term the number would be reduced by 30%.
The alarming hike prompted the question on whether or not to accept a proposal to change the constitution, creating a military National Guard in support of the local police..
It would also allow for full life sentences - reviewable after 30 years - in a country with a current maximum term of 32 years.
Other clauses would set tougher sentences for murder and rape, and authorize police to conduct nighttime raids on the homes of suspected drug dealers.
The vote should be tight with opinion polls showing between 39 and 53% support for the reform.
Security has been a major campaign issue as the Broad Front looks to win a fourth consecutive term. In power since 2005, the Front faces a tough test for reelection with voters angered by a stagnant economy, inflation of 7.5%, 9% unemployment and a budget deficit of 5% of GDP, after fifteen years of sustained economic advance.
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