Uruguay: primary elections

On June 30, the primaries for the national elections were held. Their objective is the nomination of the presidential tickets. The first thing about their result that we have to take into account is that they are not mandatory, we cannot take them as a trend that will be mechanically reflected in the national elections. If we see the results of primaries from when they started to be held until this one, the National Party was always the most voted and in none of the cases did it reach the presidency in the national elections.

This does not mean that some conclusions can be drawn from the primaries.

On the one hand, the Frente Amplio, despite presenting itself with several candidates, and among them that of a candidate from the labor movement (Andrade), whose slogan was “for a change within the change”, failed to stop the loss of votes that has advanced since they are government. This Shows that, beyond their erosion, there is a growing discontent in the base of the government party that in 2009 managed to mobilize 418,415 voters and now, according to primary results, only 255,072.

That the National party has increased its number of votes, is not surprising, since it was the most competitive primary, with elements that are unprecedented in Uruguayan politics. The arrival of a multimillionaire candidate who not only never participated in political life because he did not even live in the country, with a populist right wing campaign that applied tactics of personal attacks and fake news against his opponents was one of them. This led to a stronger mobilization of nationalist voters, largely in rejection of this candidate, who despite being coming in second, was booed at the unity rally that this party usually holds after the primaries.

The big news in these elections was the Cabildo Abirto party of Manini RĂ­os, former commander in chief of the army, which won approximately 47,000 votes. This candidate was in fact created by the Frente Amplio, which oriented its policy to relegitimizing the armed forces, promoting its aid in floods or using them as strikebreakers, gathering garbage during the municipal strike. As well as to slow down the investigation for the trial and punishment of the military for the crimes of the past dictatorship. This policy of coexistence with the military begins to break with the attempt of the reform of the military budget and the facts surrounding the court marshal that ended with the dismissal of the entire top staff of the armed forces. This allows the former commander to present himself as a defender and savior of that institution and attract a significant amount of votes that were previously dispersed among several parties on the right.

As for the political force that we called to vote from Rumbo Socialista, and for which we campaigned, Compromiso Socialista, achieved a very good result taking into account that it was its first electoral presentation. Product of carrying out a non-sectarian policy, betting on the unity of the left, and with a very active militancy, they managed to position themselves as the second force within Unidad Popular, which is the main front of forces to the left of the Frente Amplio. However, both Unidad Popular and the Partido de los Trabajadores, which presented itself alone, suffered a loss of votes, failing to channel the growing discontent with the ruling party.

This can be explained on the one hand by the multiplicity of new parties that appeared in this election and that disputed those voters, as is the case of the Partido Animalista that managed to monopolize media attention with actions such as chaining themselves in Independence Square against the polluting UPM plant. And on the other hand, by the action of the majority force within the UP (March 26), which in recent years was linked to the movement “Un Uruguay” of rural entities and entrepreneurs, and had a sectarian policy of creating unions parallel to those in the PIT-CNT, thus dividing union activism.

Federico Martinez