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Uruguay: The Lacalle Administration
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > Democratic Consolidation, 1985-90 > The Lacalle Administration


A climate of labor unrest, imminent economic crisis, and growing activism on the political left confronted Lacalle when he assumed office on March 1, 1990. Lacking a parliamentary majority, he formed a "European-style" coalition, called National Coincidence (Coincidencia Nacional), with the Colorado Party, the first such interparty sharing of power in a quarter-century. Nevertheless, the two parties were able to agree only on sharing four cabinet appointments and supporting the new government's fiscal-reform measures.

Lacalle gave the posts of ministers of housing and social promotion, industry and energy, public health, and tourism to the Colorado Party in exchange for the necessary support in the General Assembly for approving various controversial projects regarding education, the fiscal deficit, and the right to strike- -measures that labor unions and the left opposed. Lacalle chose Mariano Brito, a law professor with no previous government service, as his defense minister; Enrique Braga, one of his principal economic advisers, as his economy and finance minister; Héctor Gros Espiell, a lawyer-diplomat, as his foreign affairsminister; and Juan Andrés Ramírez, a lawyer-professor who had not previously occupied any key position, as his interior minister.

At the top of Lacalle's policy priorities were regional economic integration and moving Uruguay toward a market economy, largely through privatization of inefficient state enterprises and through free trade. Unlike his predecessor, however, Lacalle found himself confronted with a Marxist mayor of Montevideo, whose Broad Front coalition was opposed to economic restructuring. By mid-1990 the prospects for a "co-habitation arrangement" between the neoliberal, rightof -center president and Vázquez appeared poor. Shortly after taking their respective offices, the two leaders publicly clashed on departmental government prerogatives. Vázquez sought to pursue autonomous policies in areas such as transportation, public works, and health and to decentralize power in Montevideo Department. Lacalle opposed Vázquez's attempts to expand his departmental powers, arguing that a more powerful mayor of Montevideo would undermine the position of the executive branch. The confrontation that effectively ended the co-habitationarrangement took place over Montevideo's new budget, which Lacalle threatened to block.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uruguay was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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