MONTEVIDEO – Luis Lacalle Pou of the National Party of Uruguay has started the difficult task of giving hope to his supporters and of convincing voters of other parties it is possible to beat Tabare Vazquez in the presidency run-off despite the math.
Speaking at a rally Thursday, Lacalle made every effort to convince “the 52 percent majority” of the people who had not voted either for him or his rival, Vazquez, leader of the ruling left-wing party Broad Front, to support him in the second round to be held on Nov. 30.
With promises for one or the other segment of those voters and declarations about the “radical” component that the Broad Front will bring to Congress, where it got an absolute majority, and the need to counterbalance that influence in the Senate, Lacalle acknowledged the challenge that he posed to “the preservation of status quo.”
The National Party leader has his work cut out for him, given that Vazquez, who was president between 2005 and 2010, secured 47.9 percent of the votes in the first round, much more than those predicted by the exit polls, which means that all Vazquez needs to become president is to secure the same number of votes in the second round.
Lacalle Pou took second place with 30.9 percent and despite the explicit support of the Colorado Party which got a less-than-expected 12.9 percent, he still needs to sway many more voters from his center-right platform in order to defeat Vazquez.
“We must be candidates of the social majority, which is polychromatic. It’s not easy, but it is the challenge that we have taken on,” Lacalle told his supporters.
With “Uruguay United by the Positive” as the slogan chosen by Lacalle for the second round, the candidate promised to retain social programs but without “giving freebies to anyone.”
He pledged to defend and fund public schools so that the students “do not perpetuate the economic dependence” on the state and to tackle crime, a problem that affects the poor more, with toughness.
Lacalle also promised to maintain the wage increases in the country while making its structures “more efficient and cheaper.”
He declared to neither raise taxes nor the retirement age as the Broad Front would do, according to him, and vowed to “repeal the tax on the pensions” and raise the minimum limit of the income tax.
“On the 30th, the choice will be made between a national and a populist project,” concluded the leader.