Country Listing

Uruguay Table of Contents



Government: Republic with three separate branches of government. Constitution of 1967 institutionalized strong presidency, subject to legislative and judicial checks. Executive power exercised by president (elected for five-year term by simple majority of the people through unique voting system), vice president (who served as president of bicameral General Assembly), and Council of Ministers. General Assembly consisted of thirty-member Senate and ninety-nine-member Chamber of Representatives; members of both chambers elected to five-year terms through proportional representation system. Independent judicial branch headed by Supreme Court of Justice. Country's administrative subdivisions consisted of nineteen departments, each headed by a governor, subordinate to central government and responsible for local administration. Unusual electoral system combined primaries and a general election in one event characterized by a "double simultaneous vote," allowing each party's factions to run rival lists of candidates.

Politics: Civilian government restored in 1985 after twelve years of military rule. Lacalle of conservative National Party (Partido Nacional, usually referred to as Blancos)--elected president in November 1989 in country's first free election since 1971--succeeded Sanguinetti of liberal Colorado Party (Partido Colorado) on March 1, 1990. Two-party system of these rival parties had dominated since nineteenth century but was dealt strong challenge in November 1989 elections by win of mayorship of Montevideo by Broad Front (Frente Amplio), a leftist coalition. Other parties in 1989 elections included various factions of Colorado Party and National Party and new left-of- center, social democratic coalition, New Sector (Nuevo Espacio).

International Relations: Guided historically by principles of nonintervention, respect for national sovereignty, and reliance on rule of law to settle disputes. Traditionally an active participant in international and regional organizations. During 1973-85 period of military rule, "military diplomacy" focused on national and regional subversion and geopolitical concerns. Sanguinetti renewed relations with Cuba, Nicaragua, and China and strengthened relations with Soviet Union. Excellent bilateral relations with United States during 1985-90 period. Lacalle continued traditional guidelines of Uruguayan foreign policy and placed emphasis on regional integration, especially with Argentina and Brazil. Although somewhat ambivalent toward United States policy on drug trafficking, Lacalle strongly endorsed President George H.W. Bush's free-trade Enterprise for the Americas Initiative of June 1990.

International Agreements and Memberships: Member of at least thirty-two international organizations, including Organization of American States, United Nations and most of its specialized agencies, World Bank (see Glossary), International Monetary Fund ( IMF--see Glossary), General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, Latin American Economic System, and Latin American Integration Association. Signatory of Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty), and Río de la Plata Basin Treaty.

Data as of December 1990