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LATIN AMERICA | 28-02-2020 14:35

Lacalle Pou to deliver Uruguay's first conservative government in 15 years

The son of former Uruguayan president Luis Alberto Lacalle will take office on Sunday, ending 15 years of rule by the left-leaning Frente Amplio coalition.

Twenty-five years after his father left office, conservative leader politician Luis Lacalle Pou will assume the Uruguayan presidency on Msunday, thus ending 15 years of left-wing governments that promoted social reform but left the country facing economic and security challenges.

Lacalle Pou, 46, comes to power at the second attempt, after defeating Daniel Martínez in November in a presidential run-off by a mere 37,000 votes, or 1.5 percent of the country's population..

To achieve this, the leader of Partido Nacional (PN) led a "multicoloured coalition" of five political forces – pooling parties from the centre to a more radical right – to victory over the Frente Amplio ("Broad Front, FA). Voters have been angry at rising crime and homicides, the management of the economy and eventually voted for change.

In a country divided in two, Lacalle Pou  – who returns the PN to the Executive branch for the first time since his father’s mandate – will strive to maintain the unity of the brand-new coalition that catapulted him to the presidency, an alliance formed with electoral views and that many believe are fragile.

One of PN’s main governing partners is Cabildo Abierto, a radical right-wing party led by former Army commander-in-chief Guido Manini Rios, who broke onto the Uruguayan political scene just last year to win an impressive 11 percent of the vote.

That ultraconservative party, sometimes dissonant with the rest of its allies, is the most "unpredictable" actor in a society whose future is uncertain, says political scientist Daniel Chasquetti of the state Universidad de la República.

The three other parties that comprise the coalition are the Partido Colorado, the Partido de la Gente, and the Partido Independiente, although the last two only made up a combined two percent of the electorate.

"The whole political system is going to have to take an exam because we had 15 years with a very strong majority party," the analyst adds, referring to the three leftist governments with parliamentary majorities.

Immediate measures 

One of the first challenges of the "multicoloured coalition" (with a majority in Parliament) will be to pass the so-called 'Urgent Consideration Law' (LUC), a project of 457 articles from security and economy to education or health that has already generated controversy.

Lacalle Pou also announced that he will take immediate action on several fronts, from reducing public spending to facilitating immigration and implementing radical changes in foreign policy.

This aspiration was reflected in the invitations issued for his inauguration, from which the presidents of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have been excluded. Lacalle Pou has described the latter's president, Nicolás Maduro, as a "dictator.”

For the ceremony, King Felipe VI of Spain and the presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay and Chile have also confirmed their attendance.

Argentina's president, Alberto Fernández, excused himself from participating on the grounds that on the same day he must open the ordinary sessions of the Congress in his own country. The chancellor, Felipe Solá, will attend in his stead.

—TIMES/AFP

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