Tio Pepe’s Diary – Note to self: Don’t get named “Best President in World” again. Approval plummeted to 39%

Ruh-roh! Our “Tio Pepe” may have just been named “Best President in the World”, but back in Uruguay his ratings have plunged. Oops.

(Poster’s note: we’re committed to bringing you the good and the bad, the truth and the facts about Uruguay – not just all chivitos, mate, and rainbows. Plus it’s Political Silly Season in the country of our citizenship, USA. So here’s some Uruguayan politics.)

Apparently in part because he wants to legalize weed, and also perhaps due to letting our national airline, miserable little Pluna, fail entirely rather than dropping money into a bailout of an unsustainable company. At least that’s the view of the MercoPress article I linked.

However he’s still in good electoral shape, or more importantly, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) ruling coalition made up fo at least 11 different smaller parties is still far ahead of the century-plus-old traditional 2-party-system competition:

“…if national elections had been held last Sunday, the ruling coalition would garner 42% of the vote followed by the National party with 22% (up two points) and the Colorado party with 14%, down two points.”

For those who don’t follow Uruguay politics (which means just about all of you in the world!), in Uruguay the President cannot run for re-election. One 5 year term. A ex-President can run again in the future, after at least one full term out of office. But given that Mujica is in his late 70s, he’s not running again after his term ends in 2014.

But it’s important, at least in my (Mark’s) opinion as an in-processing legal resident and hopeful future citizen of Uruguay, that the progressive coalition which forms the Frente Amplio stay in the forefront of Uruguay politics instead of the creaky old 2-party system. Primarily because it enfranchises more people and brings a wider range of views into the political process, breaking the “all or nothing”, “my way or the highway” of too many two-party systems in too many countries.

The growth, and in 2004 the first-time-ever Presidential electoral success of the Broad Front, is how Uruguay gave voice to a broad range of political views. The Frente Amplio ranges from far-left Socialist, Commune, and outright Communist parties (from where Mujica hails after his period of being an armed guerrilla revolutionary) to fiercely economic conservatives and pro-life parties like where his Vice President Danilio Astori and his economic team are based. But in terms of a fair, open, sustainable society and a hybrid public/private model for sectors of the economy they have found common ground, and thus helped the country grow:

Free laptops for all schoolchildren, with free laptop-created Ceibal mesh-networks of public WiFi. Free low-speed DSL for the price of installation. Free breast cancer screenings in the Public Squares, such as the Uruguay Health mammogram van parked in front of the district offices in my city of Atlántida for the entire month of December, for any woman over 40 with a residency cédula. Yes, even non-citizen legal residents. A national health system for all who paid into Uruguay’s social security, with private and religious-run options to buy into if you prefer higher-end care at one of those “mutualistas”, in which case the government helps fund your premium. A military that only engages in UN Peacekeeping missions. A banking system that just upped its fractional reserve system to requiring 17% reserves of Uruguayan Peso deposits and 40% reserves of US Dollar deposits (compared to 10% or less with loopholes for no reserves in the US Federal Reserve System).

Look at the mix of conservative, liberal, private enterprise, and socialist initiatives, all more-or-less working well, in those examples. How did that happen, instead of gridlock? It happened because different factions agreed to work together instead of being absolutists.

Uruguay has it right in that they blew apart the choice-that-is-no-choice 2-party system, by so many “third parties” putting aside their differences and running together. In a Presidential/Congressional system like Uruguay and USA, that is the only way ever to break the duonopoly. Whether that essentially Single-Party two-intramural-squads be the Colorados y Nacionales (Blancos), or Democrats and Republicans. Sad that USA’s voices-denied alternative movements and minor parties have never learned that lesson. Whatever the results of the 2014 Presidential Elections in Uruguay, the People of Uruguay through their many different parties did find a way to bring more voices and more participation into politics.

Sounds rather ‘developed” to me! Perhaps Uruguay should send advisers to the USA to help teach the US how an open democratic republic should work, jejejeje!


Published by

Mark Mercer

Site co-owner Mark Mercer. AKA Marcos Cristoforo Mercer, AKA the Fuzzy Wanderer. Expat from USA living in Uruguay as of mid-2012, after "test-driving" it for a few months in 2011 and early 2012. Married to Lisamaria, AKA well-known travel and fitness writer Lisa Marie Mercer. Follow Mark on Twitter @mcmxs and his many other sites, which you can find at http://about.me/MarkMercer. I write and engage about many of my other interests, on Google+ at https://google.com/+MarkMercer