Uruguay. In the second round of the presidential election on November 30, Tabaré Vázquez from the ruling left coalition won the Breda Front (Frente Amplio, FA) by a wide margin over rival Luís Lacalle Pou of the conservative party Nacional (PN). Vázquez was President of 2005–10, thereby succeeding the immensely popular and original José Mujica, even he from the FA. Vázquez received just over 53% of the votes cast, while Lacalle received 41%.
According to Countryaah.com, Uruguay population in 2020 is estimated at 3,473,741. Vázquez’s victory marks the third consecutive term for the FA, and he could rely on the coalition’s achievements over the past ten years, such as strong economic growth and a successful redistribution policy. His biggest challenge will be to maintain and defend a liberal social policy, where, among other things, the legalization of marijuana has been harshly criticized from a conservative perspective. Lacalle promised to abolish the law if elected. Education and law enforcement, which Mujica publicly lamented that he could not do more, were seen as Vázquez’s most important tasks during the coming term and was the subject of Lacalle’s biggest attention during the election campaign. Another, perhaps more difficult, task for Vázquez is to try to shoulder the outgoing media-friendly President Mujica’s mantle of charisma and confidence.
Mujica’s decision to accept six released Middle Eastern prisoners from the US Guantánamo prison in Cuba was also met with disbelief, but Mujica himself stuck to it after consulting the prospective president. The prisoners, who no other country wanted to receive, arrived in Uruguay in December.
The legalization of marijuana was the subject of detailed regulations during the year, while opinion polls showed that a majority of the population still opposed the law. Critical voices pointed out that, paradoxically, at the same time, the government has enforced strict rules on tobacco smoking in public places and tobacco sales. In May, at least a 104-point program entered into force that was drawn up by the government regulating the production, distribution and sale of legal marijuana. Among other things, the allowable amount of purchases is limited, and prices were set as well as rules for cultivation licenses.