Uruguay election: Ex-guerrilla, rival to face presidential runoff

Jose Mujica – a former guerilla fighter who spent 10 years in jail – fell just short of the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff.

By , Staff Writer

A former guerrilla fighter who spent more than ten years in jail soundly defeated all other candidates in Sunday's presidential election in Uruguay, but did not capture enough votes to avoid a run-off on Nov. 29.

Jose Mujica won about 48 percent of the vote and is set to face off against center-right candidate, Luis Alberto Lacalle, a former Uruguayan president. To win in the first round, as president Tabare Vazquez did in 2004, Mr. Mujica would have needed to win more than 50 percent of votes.

While President Vazquez, who hails from the same leftist coalition as Mr. Mujica, remains widely popular, some voters have voiced concerns over Mujica's revolutionary past and blunt manner.

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"Uruguayans are asking us for one more push. We're on our way to victory. We're going to have to fight," Mujica said to supporters Sunday evening.

Mr. Lacalle got about 29 percent of votes. "We believe we are a better option for security, for certainty, for peace, for dialogue," Lacalle told his base.

In addition to choosing a president, the nation's 2.6 million eligible voters also chose a new parliament and voted on two referendums. One included an end to amnesty for human rights abuses by police and military officers during the country's military dictatorship. Both failed to win the majority of votes needed to pass.

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