Short for UY by Abbreviationfinder, Uruguay is a republic where the president is both head of state and government and appoints his own government. Two right-wing parties have historically dominated politics, but from 2005 to 2020 left a left alliance in power. Now the country once again has a right-wing government.
The constitution, which was adopted in 1966 and entered into force the following year, states that the country is a democracy that guarantees citizens citizenship and political freedoms and rights. It is based on the principle of power sharing, where executive, legislative and judicial power must balance each other.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Uruguay for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The president, who has the executive power, is elected by majority every five years. At least 50 percent of the votes are required for victory in the first round of elections, otherwise a second round will be held between the two candidates who received the most votes. The office may not be held by the same person for two consecutive terms of office, but a person may be re-elected at least one term of office. A Vice President is elected together with the President.
Laws are enacted by Congress (Asamblea General) which has two chambers: the House of Representatives with 99 members and the Senate (or Senate Chamber) with 31 senators. Of the senators, 30 are elected while a seat is important to the Vice President who is also the President. Congressional elections are held every five years, simultaneously with the presidential election. Every citizen who is 18 years of age is required to vote in general elections. All constitutional amendments must be approved in a referendum. In addition, a referendum must be held on a question if at least 25 percent of voters demand it.
Uruguay is divided into 19 provinces (departementos). In each province there is a legislative assembly, which is elected by the people every five years. The executive power of the provinces is exercised by a provincial council, whose leader is called the superintendent.
The party system consists mainly of three broad parties, which in practice are alliances of a number of smaller groups: the Broad Front, the Colorado Party and the National Party (or Blancos, see below). Most of them are built around individuals, while ideology often plays a minor role. The groupings are used as a platform for political careers and increased power, and party exchanges are commonplace. The country’s landowners, entrepreneurs and trade unions are influential interest groups. Landowners are mostly members of the Blancoparti and the entrepreneurs of the Colorado Party, while trade unions are closest to the left.
The left alliance, which since 2005 goes by the name Breda front (Frente Amplio, FA), had a major impact for the first time in 1994. Ten years later, the alliance won the presidential election and secured its own majority in both chambers. The political change to the left was confirmed in the elections in both 2009 and 2014, when the party won both the presidential post and continued to dominate the congress. Tabaré Vázquez, who was the first FA president in 2005-2010, returned to the post in 2015. Between his two terms, José Mujica was president. In the 2019 election, Montevideo’s former mayor Daniel Martínez was the party’s candidate, but he lost in the crucial round of elections (see below).
The broad front houses a large number of party groups, including a Communist Party, several Socialist parties, the trade union movement and groups with roots in the former left-wing guerrilla Movement for National Liberation (Movimiento de Liberación Nacional), usually called Tupamaros. The strongest grouping within the FA is the Movement for Public Participation (Movimiento de Participación Popular), which has roots in Tupamaros and is relatively far to the left.
The FA has broad support among students and intellectuals. The alliance is strongest in the capital Montevideo, but has gradually gained some support in the more conservative countryside. The FA has gradually abandoned its most radical proposals, such as a land reform, the nationalization of banks and a state monopoly on foreign trade.
The historically dominant parties are the Colorado Party (Partido Colorado, PC, the “Red Party”) and the National Party (Partido Nacional, PN, often called the Partido Blanco, or the Blanco Party, the “White Party”). Both parties were formed in the 1830s. The Colorado Party was supported mainly by liberals in the cities, while the Blancoparty had its foothold among conservative landowners. Nowadays, the Colorado Party has a more conservative appearance than the Blanco Party. However, the differences between the two parties are often smaller than the differences between different fractions (sublime) within the same party.
The Colorado party dominated for a long time, the party remained in power for about 90 years until 1959. However, the party’s presidential candidate has been seen to be missing third place in all elections since 2004.
Instead, it is the candidate of the Blancoparty that has most challenged the Breda front. In the 2019 elections, Blanco’s candidate Luis Lacalle Pou won in the second election, over the Breda front’s Daniel Mártinez.
Cabildo Abierto (CA, approximately Open City Hall or City Council) is a party on the far right, formed before the 2019 election with former Army Chief Guido Manini Ríos as presidential candidate. The party has security, family values and social conservatism as guiding principles.
The People’s Party (Partido de la Gente, PG) is a right-wing party formed in 2016 by businessman Edgardo Novick and which has attracted defectors from both the Blanco and Colorado parties.
The Independent Party (Partido Independiente, PI) was founded in 2002 by leftist Liberal Pablo Mieres who continues to lead the party. The party has held a few seats in the House of Representatives since the 2004 elections and also took a Senate seat in 2014. Popular unity (Unidad Popular, UP) is a radical left alliance that took place in Congress for the first time in 2014.