Thursday, October 28, 2021

LATIN AMERICA | 28-02-2020 16:36

Uruguay's Frente Amplio leaves office after 15 years of progressive rule

Left-leaning coalition introduced a string of progressive measures – including marriage equality and the legalisation of marijuana – under president Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010, 2015-2020) and José ‘Pepe’ Mujica (2010-2015).

With the election of Lacalle Pou, the left-wing Frente Amplio ("Broad Front," FA) party ends its impressive 15-year grip on power in Uruguay.

While several countries in the region experienced the collapse of progressive governments and other cataclysmic social protests, in Uruguay, the FA administrations commanded by Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010, 2015-2020) and José ‘Pepe’ Mujica (2010-2015) exemplified stability.

Among its most famous milestones are the legalisation of marijuana, the decriminalisation of abortion, marriage equality, and hardened smoking regulations. But the leftist coalition also made substantial economic gains, drove improvements in wages and pensions, expanded access to healthcare, lowered poverty indicators, and enjoyed periods of record GDP growth.

These achievements were, however, overshadowed in the last five years by a stagnant economy, an increase in the fiscal deficit (4.9 percent in 2019, the highest in 30 years), and a rise in unemployment.

In addition, another important issue that plagued the leftist coalition was an increase in violence. Homicides grew 46 percent in five years, from 268 in 2014 to 391 in 2019. Vázquez assumed his last term with the promise of reducing homicides by 30 percent, but it nevertheless rose almost 40 percent since then.

For many political analysts, insecurity is crucial to the FA's defeat and the subject will be, together with the economy, one of the two issues by which the new government will be judged.

The Frente Amploi also suffered a significant political blow in 2017, when Raúl Sendic, plagued by accusations of corruption, became the first Uruguayan vice-president to resign from his position while in office.

Once thought to be an up-and-coming progressive leader, Sendic ended up being prosecuted for abuse of power during his tenure as the head of the state-owned oil company Ancap.



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