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Uruguay elects Jose Mujica president

  |   Nov. 30, 2009 at 5:38 AM
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Sen. Jose Mujica, a former left-wing guerrilla fighter, won Uruguay's presidential election Sunday with more than 50 percent of the vote, exit polls showed.

Mujica, who spent 12 years in prison during military rule in the past, is expected to continue the economic policies of his predecessor, President Tabare Vasquez, which Uruguayans view favorably, BBC News Montevideo reported Sunday.

Outgoing president Tabare Vasquez, Uruguay's highly popular first socialist president, had brought Uruguay out of a bad economy and created employment. He served for a five-year term, but was barred by Uruguay's constitution from running for a consecutive term.

Mujica and Vasquez are part of the center-left Broad Front coalition, a leftist movement that ended a 150-year power lock by the National and Colorado parties. Broad Front's economic policies were embraced by citizens and foreign investors because they were seen as closer to the policies of Chile, Brazil and Peru than to those of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela -- three countries that repelled foreign investments by nationalizing their industries.

Mujica, 74, who had been a leader in the Tupamaros urban rebel movement in the 1970s and 1980s, said he now represents a moderate left position similar to that of Brazil's President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, 64, a founding member of the Workers' Party.

Mujica's opponent, Luis Lacalle, 68, a lawyer and conservative past president, had run on a platform of crime fighting, smaller government and less taxation.

Topics: Jose Mujica
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