Uruguay Government and Politics

Following the Constitution of 1966, with amendments in 1997, Uruguay is a democratic, presidential and unified state republic. The president is elected in the general and direct elections for five years and must have an absolute majority (possibly through another round of elections). He is the head of state and the real leader of the country. He appoints the members of the government and heads the meetings of the government. Legislative authority has been added to Congress, which has two chambers, a House of Representatives (99 members) and a Senate (30 elected members). The members of both chambers are elected in the general and direct elections for five years; the elected vice president becomes president of the senate, which thus has 31 members. Uruguay is the most European-dominated country in South America and has democratic traditions dating back to the 19th century. The policy has been dominated by two parties, the Colorado Party (the “reds”, liberally) and the national party (the Blanco party, the “whites”, moderately conservative); their rivalry led several times in the 19th century to civil war. However, during periods of the 20th century, the parties have ruled together.

Uruguay Country Flag


Administratively, the country is divided into 19 ministries. The ministries have elected department heads and a municipal intendante (intendante municipal) as executive leader in the ministries, a role that combines the role of governor and mayor. After the constitutional amendments in 1997, the ministries gained greater autonomy.


There are separate civil and criminal courts, juvenile courts and labor courts. The capital of each department, as well as some other cities, has its own departmental court. There are seven appeals, all with three judges. The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest general court. It has original jurisdiction in i.e. constitutional cases, and otherwise hears appeals from the appeals courts. It has five judges, elected for ten years by Congress. There are separate administrative courts, with the supreme administrative court as the final court. It is also a separate electoral court.

Uruguay’s defense

In Uruguay, military service is voluntary. The country is participating in peacekeeping UN operations. The total force figures for Uruguay’s armed forces are 21,000 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, 1400 semi-military forces are arriving.


The army has a workforce of 13,500 active personnel. Material comprising 15 tanks of type Ti 67, 38 facilitate tanks (16 M24 Chaffee and 22 M41 Walker Bulldog), 15 reconnaissance vehicles, 18 armored vehicles, 376 armored personnel carriers, and six self-propelled artillery. In addition, the Army facilitates drones, heavy artillery and air defense artillery.

Air Force

The Air Force has a workforce of 2700 active personnel. Material comprising 12 attack aircraft of the type A-37B Dragonfly, one reconnaissance, 23 transport, 17 trainers and 11 helicopters.

The Navy

The Navy has a workforce of 4800 active personnel, including 1400 in the Coast Guard. The fleet includes two frigates, 15 patrol vessels, three minesweepers, three landings, and nine supply and auxiliary vessels. In addition, the Navy has seven aircraft and three helicopters.

International operations

In 2018, Uruguay participated in UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) with 930 personnel and seven observers.

Uruguay Head of Government

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