The politics of Uruguay abide by a presidential representative democratic republic, under which the president of Uruguay is both the head of state and the head of government, as well as a multiform party system. The president exercises executive power and legislative power and is vested in the two chambers of the General Assembly of Uruguay. The Judiciary is independent from the executive and legislature.

Politics of Uruguay
Polity typeUnitary presidential constitutional republic
ConstitutionConstitution of Uruguay
Legislative branch
NameGeneral Assembly
Meeting placeLegislative Palace of Uruguay
Upper house
Presiding officerBeatriz Argimón, Vice President of Uruguay & President of the Senate
Lower house
NameChamber of Representatives
Presiding officerOpe Pasquet
Executive branch
Head of State and Government
CurrentlyLuis Alberto Lacalle Pou
Current cabinetCabinet of Uruguay
HeadquartersExecutive Tower
Judicial branch
NameJudiciary of Uruguay
Supreme Court
Chief judgeDoris Morales Martínez

The Colorado and National parties have been locked in a power struggle, with the predominance of the Colorado party throughout most of Uruguay's history. The 2004 election, however, brought the Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio-Nueva Mayoría, a coalition of socialists, former Tupamaros, communists, social democrats, and Christian Democrats among others to power with majorities in both houses of parliament. A majority vote elected President Tabaré Vázquez.

In 2009, the Broad Front once again won the elections with a plurality of the votes. A presidential runoff was triggered because their candidate, José Mujica, received only 47.96 percent of the vote. The Broad Front's candidate beat former president Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera of the Nacional Party in the second round of voting. In addition to the presidency, the Broad Front won a simple majority in the Uruguayan Senate and Chamber of Representatives.[1] In 2014, former president Tabaré Vázquez retook power after defeating, in a second round, the candidate of the National Party, Luis Lacalle Pou, who would be the winner of the 2019 election, surpassing the socialist Daniel Martínez with 50.79 to 49.2 percent of the vote.[2]

History edit

Until 1919, and from 1934 to 1952, Uruguay's political system, based on the 1830 Constitution, was presidential with strong executive power, similar to that of the United States (but centralized rather than federal). It was also characterized by the rivalry between the two traditional parties, the liberal Colorado Party and the conservative Blanco Party (or National Party). Historically, the Blancos represented the interests of rural property, the Church and the military hierarchy, while the Colorados were supported by urban movable property and reformist intellectuals.

In the 19th century, Uruguay had similar characteristics to other Latin American countries, including caudillism, civil wars and permanent instability (40 revolts between 1830 and 1903), control of important economic sectors in the hands of foreign capital, a high rate of illiteracy (more than half the population in 1900), and a landed oligarchy. Yet Montevideo became a refuge for Argentine exiles fleeing the dictatorship of Juan Manuel de Rosas and maintained a reputation as a welcoming place for "advanced" ideas of political and social protest. In 1842, the newspaper Le Messager français devoted a special issue to the memory of Charles Fourier. During the Great Siege of Montevideo (1843-1851), Garibaldi's redshirts fought against Rosas' attacking forces. In 1875, workers founded a section of the International.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Uruguay became the most politically and socially advanced state on the continent. The liberal José Batlle y Ordóñez (in power between 1903 and 1907, then between 1911 and 1915) was the main architect of this transformation; freedom of expression and the press was affirmed, as was that of suffrage. A system of proportional representation was adopted to allow for the representation of minorities. This period also saw the abolition of the death penalty, a fight against administrative corruption, and the introduction of secularism and women's suffrage.

On the economic level, Batlle stated that "industry must not be allowed to destroy human beings...on the contrary the State must regulate it in order to make the lives of the masses happier." An economic policy of dirigisme was thus undertaken, nationalizing many sectors of the economy (railways, telephone, electricity, among others). "Batllism" also took the form of social measures, including the introduction of free and compulsory primary education, maternity leave and the eight-hour day, as well as support for trade unions and the recognition of the right to strike. All this legislation, which was very advanced for its time, made Uruguay a progressive social democracy.[3]

Constitution edit

Uruguay adopted its first constitution in 1830, following the conclusion of a three-year war in which Argentina and Uruguay fought as a regional federation: the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata. Sponsored by the United Kingdom, the 1828 Treaty of Montevideo built the foundations for a Uruguayan state and constitution. A constitution proposed under the military dictatorship government was rejected by a referendum in 1980.

Executive Tower seats the executive power.

Executive branch edit

Uruguay's Constitution of 1967 created a strong presidency, subject to legislative and judicial balance. Many of these provisions were suspended in 1973 but reestablished in 1985. The president, who is both the head of state and the head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, with the vice president elected on the same ticket. The president must act together with the Council of Ministers, which comprises cabinet ministers, appointed by the president. Thirteen ministers head various executive departments. The ministers can be removed by the General Assembly by a majority vote.

The Constitution amendment establishes the requirements for becoming president. Article 151 establishes that the president must be a natural-born citizen of the country, or have been born to an Uruguayan citizen if born abroad. The president must also be at least 35 years old and be registered in the National Civic Registry.[4] The current president since 1 March 2020 is Luis Lacalle Pou, the son of the 36th president, Luis Alberto Lacalle.

Legislative branch edit

Legislative Palace, seat of the General Assembly of Uruguay

The General Assembly (Asamblea General) has two chambers. The Chamber of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes) has 99 members, elected for a five-year term by proportional representation with at least two members per department. The Chamber of Senators (Cámara de Senadores) has 31 members; 30 members are elected for a five-year term by proportional representation and the Vice-president who presides over it.

Judicial branch edit

Palacio Piria, seat of the judiciary

The judiciary of Uruguay is headed by the Supreme Court of Justice, whose members are appointed by the General Assembly through a two-thirds majority and whose terms last ten years. The Supreme Court of Justice is the last instance of appeal and is also in charge of judging the constitutionality of the laws. The judiciary is also made up of Courts of Appeals, District Courts and Peace Courts, as well as Conciliation Courts, Mediation Centers, and Misdemeanour Courts. Other dependencies of the Uruguayan judiciary are the Public Defender Office, the Forensic Technical Institute, and the Center for Judiciary Studies.

Direct democracy edit

The Uruguayan political system allows citizens to use direct democracy mechanisms to directly take political decisions on the current legal system without intermediaries. These mechanisms are the referendums to repeal recently approved laws, plebiscites to propose changes to the Constitution and the power of citizens to drive popular initiatives such as to propose referendums, to propose law drafts to the Parliament, to reform the Constitution and to deal with departmental matters.[5]

Political parties and elections edit

PartyPresidential candidateFirst roundSecond roundSeats
Broad FrontDaniel Martínez949,37640.491,152,27149.2142–813–2
National PartyLuis Alberto Lacalle Pou696,45229.701,189,31350.7930–2100
Colorado PartyErnesto Talvi300,17712.8013040
Open CabildoGuido Manini Ríos268,73611.4611New3New
Partido Ecologista Radical IntransigenteCésar Vega33,4611.431+100
Partido de la GenteEdgardo Novick26,3131.121+100
Independent PartyPablo Mieres23,5801.011–20–1
Popular UnityGonzalo Abella19,7280.840–100
Green Animalist PartyGustavo Salle19,3920.830New0New
Digital PartyDaniel Goldman6,3630.270New0New
Workers' PartyRafael Fernández1,3870.060000
Valid votes2,344,96596.372,341,58496.23
Invalid/blank votes88,3993.6391,6123.77
Total votes2,433,364100.002,433,196100.00
Registered voters/turnout2,699,97890.132,699,98090.12
Source: Corte Electoral (first round); Corte Electoral (second round)

International organization participation edit

Uruguay or Uruguayan organizations participate in the following international organizations:

References edit

  1. ^ "Facultad de Ciencias Sociales". 2014-07-14. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  2. ^ "SEGUNDA ELECCION 2019". 2019-12-21. Archived from the original on 2019-12-21. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  3. ^ Latin America in the 20th century: 1889-1929, 1991, p. 186-191
  4. ^ "Constitución de la República Oriental del Uruguay". Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  5. ^ González Rissoto, Rodolfo (2008b). "La democracia directa en Uruguay" (PDF). Revista de Derecho Electoral (in Spanish). Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (6). ISSN 1659-2069.

External links edit

Further reading edit