Old versus the new in tight Uruguay election

Voters in Montevideo tell Al Jazeera who they want to replace President José Mujica with – and why.

Election outcome hard to call despite an economic boom and social reforms by the ruling Broad Front coalition [AP]

Montevideo, Uruguay A presidential election in Uruguay on Sunday is too close to call with polls suggesting a run-off vote may be needed to bring the South American country’s next leader into office. 

As Uruguay goes to the polls to decide who will replace President Jose Mujica, Al Jazeera asked residents in the capital Montevideo who they’re voting for and why.

Left-wing Frente Amplio candidate and former president Tabare Vazquez is challenged by Luis Lacalle Pou from the conservative Partido Nacional party. A third contender, Pedro Bordaberry, represents the right-wing Colorado party.

A run-off between Vazquez and Lacalle Pou has been predicted.

Francisco Lagaxio, 23, law student from Salto, voting for Lacalle Pou

Francisco Lagaxio [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

Ideologically, I identify more with the Partido Nacional. I don’t agree with how the last two Frente Amplio governments spent money.

The government should prioritise education, infrastructure and public safety. Also health – the hospitals are very poorly maintained. I’m from the interior of the country and it takes two months to get a doctor’s appointment.

Also, the legislature spends a lot of money on salaries – any representative that doesn’t do anything but raise his hand makes more than 100,000 pesos [$4,120] and gets 4,000 pesos [$165] for daily expenses. Overall, I disagree with the way they spend money.

Fernando Cotelo, 44, IT worker, voting for Vazquez 

Fernando Cotelo [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

I’m voting for the Frente Amplio. My whole life I’ve voted for them.

Because of my age, it’s easy to understand why I support them. With other parties in power I’ve gone hungry, and there was a lack of jobs.

Teresa Risi, 72, homemaker, voting for Bordaberry


Teresa Risi [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

I’m voting for the Colorado party. Because it’s the party of Batlle, [Jose Batlle y Ordonez, president of Uruguay from 1903-07 and 1911-15], and I am a ‘Battllista’.

For me, Batlle was a man who changed the country. The important issues to me are education and safety.

They’re what everybody in the world wants.

Ana, 55, artist, asked her last name not be published, voting for Vazquez 


Ana [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

I’m voting for the Frente Amplio.

I am a lifelong supporter. They’ve done a lot of important and good things.

They’ve really improved the economy and they legalised abortion and same-sex marriage. At this moment, Frente Amplio is the best.

Mathilde Almada, 72, retiree, voting for Lacalle Pou


Mathilde Almada [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

The country needs young people, I love their [Partido Nacional] policies, which are the most just and appropriate.

Education is the issue that’s most important to me because through education comes security and mutual understanding.

Without it, we’ll never understand each other.

Maximiliano Jorge, 36, locksmith, voting for Vazquez 

Maximiliano Jorge [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

I’m voting for the Frente Amplio. They’ve created a good government, and I don’t want the things that the other parties promote. We had that for many years and it wasnt good.

But Frente Amplio has been good for the last 10 years and I want continuity.

Issues that still need to be addressed are housing and health, both of which need to be more accessible for everyone.

Education also needs improvement, especially early childhood education, which is very important.

Norma Baz, 58, healthcare worker, voting for Vazquez

Norma Baz [Ínigo Solano/Al Jazeera]

Since I was 18 years old I’ve supported them [Frente Amplio]. I think that it’s a party that looks more to the working class.

What everybody talks about most now is crime, and while there are things the party still hasn’t done, I think that they will. Security is a very complex and difficult issue.

In terms of education, now all the kids have computers. Even the people in the interior and older people have learned how to use computers.

Once you’re on the internet you can see everything, and now an old person from the country has access to this. It’s a big step forward for education.

Source: Al Jazeera