Viewing cable 09MONTEVIDEO666
Title: Uruguay: Mujica Strong Favorite in November 29 Presidential

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09MONTEVIDEO6662009-11-24 18:48:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Montevideo
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TAGS: PREL PGOV UY
SUBJECT: Uruguay: Mujica Strong Favorite in November 29 Presidential 
Election 
 
REF: MONTEVIDEO 0609; MONTEVIDEO 0615 
 
Summary 
 
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¶1. (U) With the November 29 runoff election less than a week away, 
ruling Frente Amplio (FA) coalition candidate Jose Mujica appears 
in position to be elected the next President of Uruguay, with 48 
percent of likely voters intending to support him, according to 
recent polls.  Challenger Luis Alberto Lacalle of the National 
Party has stepped up an advertising campaign touting his 
initiatives and leadership,  but it is unlikely to slow Mujica's 
march towards the presidency.  End Summary. 
 
 
 
Polls Point to Mujica as Next President 
 
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¶2. (U) With the runoff round of Uruguay's presidential elections 
coming November 29, the election of Frente Amplio candidate and 
former Tupamaro guerrilla Jose Mujica as the next President of 
Uruguay appears a foregone conclusion.  Mujica was widely seen to 
have a clear advantage after the October 25 general elections, in 
which the FA claimed 48 percent of the vote and a majority in 
Parliament (Ref A). 
 
 
 
¶3. (U) According to a survey released November 19 by polling 
company Interconsult, 48 percent of the Uruguayan electorate 
intends to vote for Mujica and running mate Danilo Astori, while 42 
percent will vote for former President Luis Alberto Lacalle and his 
running mate Jorge Larranaga.  Ten percent of the Uruguayan 
electorate remains undecided, giving Mujica a considerable 
advantage as, based on the polls, he need only win one-fifth of 
undecided votes in order to defeat Lacalle and claim the 
presidency. 
 
 
 
 
¶4. (U) Mujica has been making preparations as the likely future 
president, including working to strengthen his credentials with the 
business community by emphasizing continuity with the Vazquez 
administration, especially regarding economic policy.  This 
strategy was evident during a recent speech to a prominent business 
group, in which Mujica ceded the floor to running mate (and former 
Finance Minister) Astori, who detailed the economic policies that 
would remain in place during a Mujica administration. 
 
 
 
Lacalle Emphasizes "Equilibrium" in Last-Ditch Effort 
 
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-- 
 
 
 
¶5. (SBU) At first, in his attempt to close the gap, Lacalle has 
emphasized the "equilibrium" that his election to the presidency 
would bring, as it would prevent the FA from controlling both the 
legislative and executive branches of government over the next five 
years (the FA won a parliamentary majority in general elections 
October 25).  The Lacalle campaign's complementary strategy has 
been to buy television time to question Mujica's capacity for 
office.   Some of those advertising spots have also been causing 
Lacalle trouble, however.  One particularly emotive clip produced 
by the Argentinean publicist Ramiro Agulla shows an almost tearful 
Lacalle delivering a rousing speech to an equally stirred crowd of 
beautifully photographed Uruguayans listening to Lacalle's address 
on the radio.  However, it appears that Agulla had used almost 
exactly the same clip for Argentine Senator Francisco de Narvaez 
several months earlier.  The two spots are so similar that one 
actress appears in both, apparently just as overcome by the 
rhetoric of Lacalle as she was by that of Narvaez. The ad has 
caused widespread embarrassment, and there are critical You Tube 
 
 
sites dedicated to comparing the Lacalle and de Narvaez spots. 
 
 
 
¶6. (SBU) A second approach foundered when the National Party ran an 
ad exclusively in the interior of the country that linked the 
Feldman arms cache case (Ref B) directly to Mujica.  The clip, 
which appears designed to resemble a straight news report, makes no 
mention of the National Party and gives no indication that it is a 
political ad.  Lacalle has consequently been accused by some of 
seeking to deceive voters in the interior. While some media sources 
have pointed to the involvement of Lacalle campaign chief Gustavo 
Penades in the ad, Lacalle himself has denied all knowledge of how 
it came to exist. 
 
 
 
¶7. (SBU) Finally, in the last week or so, the Lacalle campaign has 
put greater emphasis on the issues, most notably in the field of 
fiscal policy.  Lacalle is calling for the reduction of various 
taxes, including the personal income tax (passed during the current 
administration under the guidance of then Finance Minister Astori), 
which he seeks to eliminate progressively during his time in 
office, and the value-added (sales) tax, which he plans to reduce 
from 22 to 20 percent if elected. 
 
 
 
Bordaberry: Standing by Lacalle in Spirit 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
 
 
¶8. (U) While Pedro Bordaberry (whose 17 percent share of the vote 
in October pulled the Colorado Party back from irrelevance) is not 
a candidate in the runoff, those who voted for him in the first 
round will play a pivotal role in this election, as Lacalle needs 
to win all of them, plus some Mujica voters, to pull an upset. 
Bordaberry pledged his vote to Lacalle as the first round's results 
came in, but his subsequent support has been somewhat more 
circumspect.  Instead of choosing to campaign directly alongside 
Lacalle and Larranaga, for example, Bordaberry embarked on a 
separate national tour to thank local activists and explain why the 
National Party ticket was the best choice for their vote. 
 
 
 
Comment 
 
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¶9. (U) Analysts have been struck by the remarkably stable level of 
support for the two candidates in recent weeks, as well as the high 
level of undecided voters.  There is clearly a large group of 
people who do not like their choices. 
MATTHEWMAN