Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Meet the Candidates: Uruguay

Uruguay's 2024 general elections will take place on October 27.
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This article is adapted from AQ’special report on Latin America’s election super-cycle

This page was last updated on February 16.

Uruguay will vote for president, vice president, all 30 seats in the Senate, and all 99 seats in the Chamber of Representatives on October 27. If no presidential candidate receives over 50% of the vote, a second round will be held on November 19.

This page includes the two leading candidates from each of the parties polling above 10% in a November survey from Equipos Consultores, listed alphabetically by last name. We will occasionally update this page to reflect developments in the campaigns.

AQ also asked a dozen nonpartisan experts on Uruguay to help us identify where each candidate stands on two spectrums: left versus right on economic matters, and a more personalistic leadership style versus an emphasis on institutions. We’ve published the average response, with a caveat: Platforms evolve, and so do candidates.

This piece is part of AQ’s ongoing coverage of upcoming elections.

Carolina Cosse | Álvaro Delgado | Yamandú Orsi | Laura Raffo

Carolina Cosse

62, mayor of Montevideo department

Frente Amplio (FA)

“Uruguay cannot endure another five years of everyone for themselves.”

HOW SHE GOT HERE

An electrical engineer by training, Cosse entered politics in 2007 as director of Montevideo’s information technology division. She was appointed president of the state-owned telecommunications company ANTEL by President José “Pepe” Mujica in 2010 and served as minister of industry, energy and mining in the administration of Tabaré Vázquez (2015-19). In 2019, Cosse finished second in the presidential primaries for Frente Amplio (FA) with 25% of the vote. After serving in the Senate since February 2020, Cosse began her term as mayor of Montevideo in November of that year.

WHY SHE MIGHT WIN

Cosse’s track record on the national political stage and as Montevideo’s mayor has elevated her profile. Her progressivism, including her commitment to feminism and inclusive development, positions her as a leading figure in her left-wing coalition.

WHY SHE MIGHT LOSE

Her leftist views and urban-focused trajectory might cost her support in rural areas, possibly hindering her chances in the general election. Cosse has faced criticism for the cost overrun during the construction of the ANTEL Arena, a project that was started while she led ANTEL and was completed after her tenure as its president. In the FA primaries, she will face off against Yamandú Orsi, a candidate with significant support, particularly among the coalition’s more moderate sectors.

WHO SUPPORTS HER

Cosse garners support from the leftmost factions of the FA, including the Communist and Socialist parties. She is likely to attract support from women within the FA who want to see a female president.

WHAT SHE WOULD DO

She had yet to release a platform at the time of writing, but Cosse’s record hints at her priorities. As mayor, she implemented inclusive growth strategies, such as measures to counter pandemic-induced job losses, a program offering technical and developmental assistance for small businesses, and efforts to improve the capital’s waste collection and management. As minister, Cosse advocated for small and medium-sized companies in the mining and telecommunications sectors and diversified the energy grid.

IDEOLOGY

Álvaro Delgado

54, former presidential chief of Cabinet

Partido Nacional (PN)

“We put the country on its feet, and it began to walk.”

HOW HE GOT HERE

Delgado, who trained as a veterinarian and holds an agroindustrial management postgraduate degree, started his career in the agricultural industry. He was a member of the lower house of Congress (2005-15) and the Senate (2015-20) representing Montevideo. Delgado served as chief of Cabinet to President Luis Lacalle Pou and resigned in December 2023.

WHY HE MIGHT WIN

Delgado’s prominent role in Lacalle Pou’s government has given him a broad platform. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, regular press conferences elevated his visibility as he became the face of the government’s response, which was generally perceived as effective. This positions him to capitalize on the administration’s high approval rating, especially during its first two years.

WHY HE MIGHT LOSE

Recent scandals have shaken Lacalle Pou’s administration, leading to several resignations from top Cabinet members. Delgado’s central role in the government, combined with a perceived lack of charisma, may alienate voters.

WHO SUPPORTS HIM

Seen as a capable administrator, Delgado is supported primarily by the Aire Fresco movement of the PN, where he is seen as a successor to Lacalle Pou. This endorsement may rally support from the president’s followers, including pro-market voters. PN mayors from Uruguay’s interior, a party stronghold, have also supported his candidacy.

WHAT HE WOULD DO

While he has been reserved about his presidential plans, Delgado would likely uphold the current administration’s policies. He has defended government achievements like educational and social security reform. Delgado is likely to continue pushing for the professionalization of the state, increased efficiency and greater trade liberalization—Lacalle Pou has sought free trade agreements with China and others, despite Mercosur’s rules against bilateral trade deals. Delgado has also emphasized investing in innovation, science, technology and the knowledge-based economy.

IDEOLOGY

Yamandú Orsi

56, mayor of Canelones department

Frente Amplio (FA)

“It will not be a government of friends. It will be a government of capable individuals committed to assuming public office, with a sense of responsibility and ethics.”

HOW HE GOT HERE

A former high school history teacher from a farming family, Orsi is serving his second term as mayor of Canelones, the nation’s second-most populous department. He entered politics in 2005, initially serving as the general secretary of the department under the Movimiento de Participación Popular (MPP), Mujica’s party within the FA coalition. Orsi held this position for a decade before being elected mayor in 2015.

WHY HE MIGHT WIN

Orsi is seen as the inheritor of Mujica’s legacy within the MPP. He is backed by the party’s leftist base and by more moderate factions within the FA due to his consensus-building approach to policymaking. Though known for his willingness to dialogue, Orsi has criticized Lacalle Pou’s administration, potentially striking a chord with voters disillusioned by the PN.

WHY HE MIGHT LOSE

His relatively moderate views that appeal to a broader electorate would be an asset in the general election. However, they could be a liability in the left-leaning FA primaries, where more progressive voters might favor his main opponent, Cosse.

WHO SUPPORTS HIM

Orsi’s roots in Canelones, in some ways a microcosm of Uruguay with its mix of rural and metropolitan areas, provide him with experience governing both city and countryside. This diverse background could garner broad support from the coast and the interior, possibly attracting more centrist voters beyond his coalition.

WHAT HE WOULD DO

Orsi considers himself “from the left,” and believes in “that old Uruguayan tradition where the state did not leave anyone behind.” Orsi has also courted U.S. investment in the country—including in fighting organized crime, where he suggests the U.S. could foster regional coordination. As mayor, he promoted initiatives to attract global businesses, like Google, to Canelones. Orsi has also emphasized the importance of fostering commercial relations with China as an export destination for raw materials, and has stated that he does not want to put “all the eggs in one basket.”

IDEOLOGY

Laura Raffo

50, president of the Partido Nacional’s Montevideo Commission

Partido Nacional (PN)

“We are not to the left or right of anyone.”

HOW SHE GOT HERE

Raffo ran for public office for the first time in the 2020 Montevideo mayoral race as part of the Coalición Multicolor, which includes the PN and the Partido Colorado. She received 40% of the vote and lost to Cosse. An economist by training, she gained national recognition through TV roles and by writing about economic issues for a broad audience in national outlets. With a corporate background at ManpowerGroup, Microsoft and SURA, Raffo also served on the board of directors of Banco Santander in Uruguay (2018-20). She hails from a political family—Raffo’s father was a minister in President Luis Alberto Lacalle’s administration (1990-95).

WHY SHE MIGHT WIN

A supporter of the current administration, yet different enough to offer voters a change, Raffo could capitalize on both the administration’s popularity and its shortcomings.

WHY SHE MIGHT LOSE

Raffo does not enjoy complete backing from the ruling party, as several critical sectors of the PN favor Delgado’s candidacy. One of her primary supporters, Lista 71—a faction within the PN—has faced various scandals in recent months.

WHO SUPPORTS HER

In July 2023, Raffo led the creation of Sumar, a new faction within the Partido Nacional. Raffo may appeal to PN voters who are younger, more urban and socially progressive, while retaining the fiscal conservatism emblematic of the party’s base.

WHAT SHE WOULD DO

If elected, Raffo has said that she would pursue a “second phase of transformations” building on Lacalle Pou’s administration, emphasizing a technocratic approach to policymaking. She has vowed to lower the cost of living by reducing bureaucracy and modernizing state processes. Raffo has also advocated for public safety reforms and facilitating mothers’ participation in the workforce.

IDEOLOGY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reading Time: < 1 minuteHein is a Costa Rican political scientist and a public leadership analyst at VélezReyes+ and a former editorial assistant at AQ

Follow Tara Hein:   LinkedIn   |    X/Twitter

Tags: Elections 2024, Uruguay
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