After 170 years of rule by traditional centre-right parties, the leftist Frente Amplio (Broad Front) won the 31 October 2004 elections with more than 50 per cent of the votes, taking the Presidency and a majority in both chambers. Second came the Blanc (or National) Party, with 34 per cent, while the ruling Colorado Party polled just 10 per cent.
Frente leader Tabor Vázquez, a cancer specialist, will take office on 1 March 2005. The Broad Front was founded in 1971 and today comprises socialists, communists, Christian Democrats, independent leftist groups and former Tupamaros guerrillas. It suffered harsh repression during the military dictatorship (1973-85) but re-emerged to take 20 per cent of the votes in the first postdictatorship elections.
The day of the Frente’s victory, Uruguayans also voted for a constitutional reform consecrating access to water as a human right to be served only by public provision. The 62-per-cent Yes vote for this amendment made Uruguay the first country in the world to have both things guaranteed in its Constitution (South Africa specifies water as a human right but allows it to be provided by private companies).