Uruguay’s Presidential Primaries Put the Left Back in Pole Position

Uruguay’s Presidential Primaries Put the Left Back in Pole Position
Uruguayan presidential candidate Yamandu Orsi of the Frente Amplio party arrives at a polling station to cast his vote during primary elections, in Canelones, Uruguay, June 30, 2024 (AP photo by Matilde Campodonico).

Uruguayans held primaries on June 30, with the two main blocs choosing their candidates for the country’s presidential election in October. Yamandu Orsi, a former high school history teacher and mayor of the sprawling urban-rural Canelones district, won 59 percent of votes cast for the Broad Front, or FA, and will lead the center-left coalition into the election. His nearest rival—Carolina Cosse, the mayor of Montevideo and a former industry minister—received 38 percent of votes.

Orsi’s victory was all but guaranteed by the endorsement of former President Jose “Pepe” Mujica, well-liked for his avuncular manner and common-sense politics. Quickly putting the contest to bed, Orsi announced that Cosse will serve as his eventual vice president. “We’re headed to victory,” the 57-year-old told cheering supporters, promising to unite the country, grow salaries and pensions, fight rising levels of crime and deliver “prosperity with wellbeing, growth with solidarity.”

Momentum seems to be with the FA, which governed between 2005 and 2020. It picked up 42 percent of all votes cast, the first time the big-tent movement spanning communists, socialists, Christian Democrats and centrist technocrats, has come out on top since primaries were first held in Uruguay in 1999. But turnout was at a record-low 36 percent, slightly dampening the triumphant mood.

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