Ruling party candidate concedes defeat in Uruguay presidential election
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Montevideo (AFP) –
The ruling Broad Front candidate in Uruguay's presidential election Thursday conceded defeat to Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party, bringing an end to 15 years of leftist rule.
The trend witnessed in an ongoing vote recount after Sunday's cliffhanger election "isn't changing, and therefore we greet the elected president Luis Lacalle Pou," Daniel Martinez wrote in a tweet.
"We will continue to defend democracy with more force than ever," he added.
The National Party acknowledged victory in a tweet saying: "Now it's our turn, let's celebrate everybody's Uruguay!"
The news set off a cacophony of horn blowing in downtown Montevideo by Lacalle Pou supporters.
Martinez refused to concede on Sunday when the election was deemed too close to call by the electoral court, with just 30,000 votes separating the candidates.
The court ordered a recount on the grounds that the number of provisional or contested votes -- around 35,000 -- exceeded the margin between the candidates.
Lacalle Pou told supporters he was confident his victory would be confirmed, however.
Opinion polls since last month's first round had indicated the 46-year-old former senator would comfortably win the run off.
But with almost all the votes counted, his lead over Martinez, a 62-year-old former Montevideo mayor, was just over 1.0 percent.
With the court expected to declare the official result later Thursday, it means defeat for the long-dominant leftist ruling Broad Front coalition after 15 years in power.
The coalition of leftist movements can point to a record of progressive government since it broke a decades-long conservative stranglehold with an election victory in 2005.
Tiny Uruguay stood out on the international stage by approving abortion and gay marriage, and the small nation pioneered the legalization of cannabis in 2013.
But Lacalle Pou tapped into voter concerns over the country's high tax rates and concerns over creeping insecurity.
Uruguay has long been considered a bastion of peace and stability in an often turbulent region.
But public safety has been eroding, with a sharp rise in some violent crimes reported last year.
© 2019 AFP