Luis Lacalle Pou, Uruguay's new president
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Montevideo (AFP) –
Uruguay's young president-elect Luis Lacalle Pou has a remarkable political pedigree, being the son of a former president and a senator.
By his own admission a rebellious teenager, he was 16 when his father Luis Alberto Lacalle became president of the South American country. Now, 30 years later, he is in line to lead Uruguay.
His father's 1990-1995 presidency coincided with a period in which the privileged younger Luis experimented with drugs, he admitted later.
His mother, Julia Pou, is a former member of the Senate -- a chamber in which her son was a prominent member until he resigned his seat to pursue the presidency.
During a previous run for the presidency in 2014, the soft-spoken Lacalle Pou acquired the nickname, "the positive one."
"Tolerance is to be on the side of those who think differently," he said during his most recent campaign.
A business-friendly conservative, politics has drawn him away from his first love. A nature lover, he has referred to himself as a "frustrated biologist."
Married and father to three sons, Lacalle Pou's victory comes on his second run at the presidency. He lost a run-off to current president Tabare Vasquez in 2014.
"For many Uruguayans Lacalle Pou represents a generational renewal of Uruguay's traditional parties," said Daniel Supervielle, author of a book on the 2014 campaign.
He was a member of Congress at the age of 26 and kept his seat for 15 years before entering the Senate.
To isolate the Broad Front ahead of the run-off, he showed considerable political skill in pulling together a disparate five-party coalition.
His legislative majority runs the gamut from a single representative of the social democratic Independent Party, to the established Colorado Party and the right-wing Cabildo Abierto of ex-army chief Guido Manini Rios.
He benefited from the movement within the National Party known as "Herrerismo" -- after his paternal grandfather Luis Alberto de Herrera who joined the party's executive in the 1950s.
Throughout his campaign, Lacalle Pou promised not to raise taxes if elected, saying he would instead seek a public service hiring freeze to save $900 million over the next five years.
He has hit out at the "reckless spending" of previous leftist governments.
His government program proposes reducing state spending to overcome a persistent fiscal deficit of nearly 5 percent of GDP.
His first act as president would be to bring in a raft of measures under an emergency law including to boost security -- a key voter concern -- and liberalize oil imports.
Uruguay's state-owned oil company Ancap has a monopoly and fuel prices are among the world's highest.
The new security measures include boosting police resources and providing them with greater legal protection from the courts.
Lacalle Pou will formally take office in March 2020 for a five-year term as president.
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