Uruguayans are voting in a presidential run-off, with opinion polls showing former leader Tabare Vazquez likely to win. His victory would mean a third consecutive term for the ruling center-left coalition.
Uruguayans were voting on Sunday in a presidential run-off election pitting former President Tabare Vazquez (pictured left) of the ruling Broad Front coalition against conservative Lui Lacalle Pou (pictured right) of the National Party.
Opinion polls have shown Vazquez, 74, who led Uruguay as president from 2005-2010, with a comfortable 14 percentage point lead over Pou.
If Vazquez does win, he will replace his own successor, outgoing president and fellow Broad Front coalition member Jose Mujica, who is forbidden by Uruguayan law to seek immediate re-election.
Vazquez ended his first term as president five years ago with high approval ratings, but was forced to step aside under the same law. He received the biggest share of the vote in the first round of the presidential election on October 26.
Among other things, Vazquez has promised to see through the legalization of the commercial production and sale of marijuana, a law that was passed last year under Mujica's leadership in a bid to take control of the drug trade away from illegal gangs.
The 41-year-old Pou has said he wants to repeal much of the reform, which is opposed by two-thirds of the population. He has also pledged to curb rising crime rates and improve education.
However, a decade of strong growth fostered by the Broad Front's mix of pro-market economic policies and welfare policies is likely to be a strong argument for many voters in favor of Vazquez, a respected oncologist.
Vazquez will probably also benefit from the legacy left by Mujica, one of Latin America's most popular leaders who won the reputation of "the world's humblest president" on the basis of his simple, unostentatious lifestyle.
The 79-year-old Mujica, a former leftist guerilla, also won international praise for having legalized same-sex marriage and marijuana and introducing liberal abortion legislation, although these moves were less popular with conservatives at home.
tj/se (AP, Reuters, dpa)