Winds of change have swept in Uruguay. After fifteen years in office, and enjoying an absolute legislative majority, the Broad Front could lose control of the Executive on 24 November, when a runoff is scheduled among the two most voted candidates this Sunday.
Most probably replaced by what was described as a multi color government.
The incumbent catch-all-coalition presidential candidate Daniel Martinez obtained 38% of votes cast, which confirms the Broad Front as the leading political group in Uruguay, while runner up Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou from the National Party obtained 28% and will challenge next month the industrial engineer with a long political career as head of Uruguay's oil company, senator, minister and mayor of Montevideo.
But given Sunday results, and commitments from other competing parties, Lacalle Pou, mathematically could emerge as the next Uruguayan president replacing Tabare Vazquez next March first.
In effect, the other parties with a two digit vote support, Colorado and Open Forum, with 12% and 11%, have publicly committed their backing for Lacalle Pou, to which must be added some minor parties in the range of 1% and 1.5%. All together are at scratching distance of the 50% plus one majority vote.
The Broad Front of president Vazquez and Senator Jose Mujica don't have any party allies to which appeal, be it not for dissidents among some of the announced supporters of Lacalle Pou, which is possible. But the tide seems have turned against the Broad Front. Too many issues remain in the waiting list, beginning with street crime (on average double the US rate of homicides), drugs, chaos in education, bloated bureaucracy, budget deficit of almost 5% of GDP despite some fifteen years of commodities bonanza...and last but not least corruption, despite the fact that leaders of the Broad Front in the past bragged that if you are left wing oriented, you're not corrupt, only if you are right wing oriented, you are corrupt.
Anecdote aside, there are several serious cases in the Judiciary stubbornly or distractedly delayed, while at congressional level, the majority has buried many investigation committees initiatives.
Equally significant is the Open Forum party, started only six months ago by a sacked Army chief, who has become a magnet for many Uruguayans disenchanted with the political system, and his message is simple and direct, law and order, end to corruption and the government partying.
In his victory speech Lacalle Pou told his followers that the next government was going to be multicolor in anticipation of the coalition expected in November, and later starting in March.
Likewise in their speeches, the Colorado party candidate Ernesto Talvi, and the Open Forum head, a former army general Guido Manini Rios officially announced their support for the runner up. To this must be added the backing of a couple of smaller parties
Daniel Martínez and the Broad Front 38% votes also means the loss of the absolute majority in the Legislative. In the 30-seat Senate, the National party of Lacalle Pou can be expected to master ten benches, the Colorado party 4 and the Open Forum 3, totaling 17, while the ruling coalition 13.
Said this on Monday begins the runoff campaign, which includes a mandatory debate between the two hopefuls, and four weeks is a long time.