Not since the return to democracy in 1985 have presidential elections in Uruguay been so closely contested. Echoes of the preceding 12 years of military dictatorship (1973-1985) are the most likely explanation for this. Opinion polls had all suggested days before the second round on 24 November that Luis Lacalle Pou of the centre-right opposition Partido Nacional (PN, Blancos) would defeat Daniel Martínez of the ruling leftwing Frente Amplio (FA) comfortably. This did not transpire. Instead, so slender was Lacalle Pou’s lead that the electoral court has had to revise contested ballots before formally declaring him the victor. An eleventh hour video released by former army commander Guido Manini Ríos, whose right-wing Cabildo Abierto (CA) will play a pivotal role in Lacalle Pou’s multi-party coalition, and an incendiary editorial published by an organisation of retired military officers, caused disquiet, providing a final spur for Martínez.

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