URUGUAY: Uruguayans were choosing a new president Sunday in a contest that could also determine the future of the country’s pioneering marijuana law.
Outgoing President Jose Mujica led Uruguay through economic prosperity and gained worldwide acclaim for social reforms such as the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage. His left-leaning Broad Front coalition leads in the election to replace him, but victory in the first round is far from certain.
Polls suggest that Broad Front candidate Tabare Vazquez, 74, will fall short of the absolute majority, forcing a runoff next month. His main challenger is center-right National Party candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, the son of a former president.
If elected, Lacalle Pou, 41, promises to tackle rising crime, improve education and modify the law that Mujica spearheaded to create the world’s first national marketplace for legal marijuana. Although he would still allow consumers to grow the plants at home for personal use, he would end the government’s role in the production and sales of pot.