Leftist wins Uruguay presidential runoff: polls

By Ana Inis Cibils, AFP

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Ex-president Tabare Vazquez won Uruguay’s presidential runoff Sunday, extending the left’s decade-long hold on power �X though not necessarily his predecessor’s ground-breaking marijuana laws, exit polls showed. Vazquez, a 74-year-old cancer doctor who previously served as president from 2005 to 2010, won between 53 and 53.9 percent of the vote, and will succeed his Broad Front (FA) party colleague Jose Mujica, according to three different exit polls. His center-right opponent, 41-year-old lawmaker Luis Lacalle Pou, took between 40.6 and 42 percent of the vote, found the pollsters, Factum, Cifra and Equipos Mori. Lacalle Pou, a former president’s son and passionate surfer who ran on the National Party ticket, conceded defeat after the exit polls were released. The result, if confirmed, consolidates the FA’s hold on power and returns Vazquez, who swept them to office 10 years ago, to the helm in a game of political leapfrog for this country that forbids presidents from serving consecutive terms. The small South American country will now watch to see how Vazquez, a straight-laced politician with a formal style, handles the take-over from Mujica, a former guerrilla fighter and consummate rabble-rouser famous for living in a humble farmhouse and donating most of his salary to charity. Marijuana Law in Doubt

Vazquez, who has at times clashed with Mujica within the FA, cuts a much more sober figurethan his successor, who still drives around in his beat-up Volkswagen Beetle and is known as ��the world’s poorest president.�� Mujica legalized abortion, gay marriage and marijuana sales during his administration. Vazquez has said his policy priorities will be education, infrastructure and public safety.