Uruguay's plan to create the world's first national, government-regulated marketplace for legal pot may be upset by the presidential election. The plan would give the national government power to oversee the production, sales and consumption of marijuana.
The vote on October 24 will decide who replaces resident Jose Mujica, who is constitutionally prohibited from pursuing a second term. On June 1 in the first primary election the ruling leftist Broad Front coalition chose Tabare Vazquez to replace Mujica. A physician by training, Vasquez was president from 2005 to 2010. The main opposition, the centrist National Party, chose Luis Lacalle Pou. Pedro Bordaberry was chosen by the conservative Colorado Party, and Pablo Mieres by the center-left Independent Party.
Vasquez leads the field. If he loses to Lacalle Pou, the first casualty will be Mujica's controversial pot law. The National Party vows to rescind it.
Vasquez - or Lacalle Pou - will have the challenge of dealing with Uruguay's inflation, which remains stubbornly high at 9 per cent and hard to break. In 2007 it was 6.38 per cent. If no candidate receives an absolute majority, a runoff election between the top-finishing candidates will take place on 30 Nov 2014.
Date written/update: 2014-09-06