It has been a while since I wrote up the local political situation in any depth. Since the parties are electing their presidential candidates from the pre-candidate batch next month, I might as well offer an overview of Uruguay's offerings sorted by party with many omitted for irrelevance. Polls were consulted, but weighed trivially into this ordering:
The Frente Amplio
- Daniel Martinez - Martinez was the Intendant (Mayor) of Montevideo until he recently quit the job to officially join the Presidential race. He appears to be the party's front runner largely due to his humble office preventing him from making singular expensive blunders in the manner of his major primary competitors. The Frente Amplio has been in power for 15 years presenting plenty of opportunities for just about everyone in a higher office to find their name a punchline.
- Carolina Cosse - Polls a distant second to Martinez. Was the President of state telecom company ANTEL under the Mujica regime and was minister of industries, energy, etc under Vasquez until resigning the position when campaign season legally opened.1 Hanging around her campaign is the recently opened ANTEL Arena. Basketball is Uruguay's second sport2 and 100+ million dollars were sunk into building the 15,000 seat arena.3 Because Uruguay, unlike Argentina identifies as a poor country Cosse's basketball baby is an unpopular boondogle, but an especially unpopular one with the Front's voter base.
- Uncountable others - As a coalition the Frente Amplio consists of many member parties. The field is very crowded.
The Partido Nacional (Formerly Los Blancos)
Historically the rural and nationalist party and now the Rural, conservative, nationalist, and centerist party, the National Party is the electorally relevant opposition party. They are also the largest single party, much larger than any single member party of the Frente Amplio.
- Louis Lacalle Pou - Runner up in the last presidential election. Grandson of Louis Alberto Herrera. His father was president (1990 - 1995), though less notable for having had that office than grandpa is notable for having not. Had a fistfight on tv in the Chamber of Deputies in 2007 against several Frente Amplio deputies. CIA killed his uncle and tried to kill his daddy when the National Party was trying to negotiate an end to the dictatorship in the 1970's.4
A lawyer by training and criticized by the Frente for not having been in the divine state of "trabajo laboral" Lacalle Pou still manages to appear to be the most muscular of the candidates. His ruggedly handsome jeans and pickup trucks aesthetic could make him the frontrunner in any US western (not coastal) state's gubanatorial race. His biggest handicap is that he's called for an austerity shock without any tax relief.
- Juan Sartori - He of Russian oligarch wife and legal cannabis fortune. He's been running an awareness campaign asking Uruguayos who he is before began running the legal Presidential campaign. Uses the popular US red party "less taxes, smarter spending line" which makes the locals a bit nervous.5 Consistently flips between second and third place in the very small sample size local polls. Has an advantage in a dismissive reception by other candidates. Other candidates have been trying to cut into each other and he's just campaigning on and staying in the news.
- Larrañaga - Old, fat, blew his load getting his "vivir sin miedo" ballot initiative on the ballot. Engaged in a losing back and forth with Lacalle Pou. Votes drawn may influence the selection of legislative candidates for the general election.
- Antía - Polls in the low single digits. Started the active portion of his campaign late. His militants have been painting over somewhat interesting graffiti with large fields of white with small blue Antía logos destroying important local navigation landmarks in the process. Intendant of Maldonado department where money trap Punta del Este and the local Trump Tower live.
The Colorado Party (The Old Reds)
The Colorados are the classicly urban left pantsuit party. In the 20th century they enjoyed a slight dominance over the rural National Party, but after being the dominant political party during the dictatorship years, their base left them for the Frente Amplio. The party appears to be terminally capped at no more than 15% of the total intention to vote. Mujica's MPP inside the Frente Amplio is by all appearances bigger than the old Colorado Party. Both candidates appear to be in a dead heat. Both candidates key issue is dumpin more money into education.
- Julio Sanguinetti - Italian octegenarian and two term President (1985 - 1990, 1995 - 2000) his schtick is dismissing everyone else as a youngin' lacking experience. Headed ministeries in the pre dictatorship Colorado government. Campaign seems to be entirely sustained by the nostalgia of old men. Old woman either swoon over Lacalle Pou and Sartori or frump away with the Frente Amplio.
- Ernest Talvi - He identifies as a US trained economist. His voter base is mostly reddit dorks.
Partido de la Gente
A vanity party run by Eduardo Novick. His schtick is running for progressively higher offices after his last election loss. Massive ad spending and single digit polling. Runs on a hard law and order platform. Polls around 1 percent of the intention to vote despite sustaining the highest campaign spending. His pre-campaign "awareness" billboards were out in force when I landed in the country.
The number of minor parties in Uruguay is nearly uncountable with many inside and outside the Frente Amplio coalition existing with a handful of member/supporters in the way a book club or knitting circle might exist anywhere else. Some might be as big as a couple hundred members, but when they host rallies the crowds tend to come from the same student and labor groups that will show up for any sufficiently leftist party.
- This appears to be a thing here. Similarly term limits keep incumbent presidents from running for a second term leading to the 15 years of FA rule being a Vśzquez regime, the Mujica regime, and a second run with Vásquez. [↩]
- Uruguay hosted the Basketball World Cup in 1967. [↩]
- The previous, now demolished "Municipal Cylinder" managed to seat 18,000 [↩]
- Despite the National Party having been supressed and suffering casualties during the dictatorship years alongside the leftists, the Latino agreement machine has spent years consensusing them into "the fascists" for being somewhat conservative. [↩]
- The Latino labor movement has influenced a popular conception of economics as strictly zero sum. The idea that more or smarter work can boost overall productivity and wealth is nearly unheard of here. It is all "they have, you have not, fuck it lets take it" sorta thought. [↩]