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October 23, 2014
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Tabaré, Bordaberry and Lacalle win primaries

Former Uruguayan president and current primaries candidate for the Broad Front party Tabaré Vázquez casts his vote in a polling station in Montevideo, yesterday.

Three candidates to face off at Uruguayan elections in October, according to exit polls

MONTEVIDEO — Three separate exit polls in Uruguay concurred last night that former president Tabaré Vázquez won the presidential nomination for the ruling Broad Front, while Senator Pedro Bordaberry and Luis Lacalle Pou became the candidates of the opposition’s Partido Colorado and Partido Nacional, respectively.

While Vázquez’s and Bordaberry’s wins at yesterday’s primaries were widely expected, Lacalle Pou’s victory — if confirmed by official results — would surprise many analysts, who had counted on a triumph by Senator Jorge Larrañaga.

With conservative Partido Nacional voters pretty much split in halves between supporting La-rrañaga and supporting Lacalle Pou, the party’s internal contest was the only one being closely watched last night.

Pollster Factum gave Lacalle Pou 54 percent of the votes, while Larrañaga was taking 46 percent. Within the Partido Colorado, Bordaberry was well-ahead with 74 percent of the votes, against 25 percent for lawmaker José Amorín Battle. Vázquez, meanwhile, was winning by a landslide — with 82 percent of the votes — against Senator Constanza Moreira, who had just 15 percent of the votes, according to Factum.

Pollsters Cifra and Equipos provided similar numbers and Lacalle Pou’s bunker was already celebrating its candidate’s performance last night.

The National Electoral Court acknowledged that absenteeism had been high throughout the day but highlighted that elections took place normally, with no diruptions. They said turnout had been well-under that registered in the 2009 primaries, which led to some of the candidates to call for the internal vote to be made compulsory.

According to some surveys, only 32 percent fo registered voters casted ballots in the capital, Montevideo.

“I regret that voting in the primaries is not mandatory. People need to commit to democracy,” La-rrañaga told reporters yesterday.

Amorín Battle also said he considered it “reasonable” for the internal vote to be made compulsory, given that the presidential elections are mandatory for Uruguayans.

Some pre-candidates, however, said low turnout should prompt politicians to ask themselves why citizens weren’t bothering to cast their ballots.

“It has to do with our (in)ability to summon voters,” Bordaberry said after voting.

Both President José Mujica and his party’s leading pre-candidate Vázquez voted early in the morning, around 8.15am, shortly after the election opened.

Vázquez said he would make “important announcements” once his candidacy was confirmed.

Lacalle Pou, Larrañaga and Bordaberry all voted closer to midday.

A total of 2,653,416 Uruguayans were registered to vote in yesterday’s primaries, five months ahead of presidential elections scheduled to take place on October 26. The next president will take office in March next year.

The Broad Front — a coalition of leftist parties — has been in power in Uruguay since 2004, with the election of Tabaré Vázquez.

Vázquez was succeeded by current President José Mujica, a former guerrilla who spent several years in prison during the country’s dictatorship and who has become globally well-known for rejecting many of the perks that come with a country’s top job.

He still lives in his farm with his wife, Senator Lucía Topolansky.

The Broad Front has a majority in both chambers of the Uruguayan Congress and has recently managed to get approved several high-profile initiatives, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and the creation of a state-managed market for marijuana.

Herald with Télam, online media

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