The Opposition and the Reemergence of Parties, 1980-84
After the electoral defeat of the military's constitution, retired Lieutenant General Gregorio Alvarez Armelino (1981-85), one of the leaders of the coup, became president, and political dialogue was slowly restored. The 1982 Political Parties Law was enacted to regulate the election of political leaders, the functioning of political conventions, and the preparation of political platforms. Its aim was the controlled regeneration and democratization of the political system, but it excluded the left to avoid a return to the situation prior to 1973. In 1982 the officials of the National Party, the Colorado Party, and the Civic Union (Unión Cívica--UC; created in 1971), a small conservative Catholic party, were elected. Once again, election results were a blow to the military. Sectors opposing the dictatorship won overwhelmingly in both traditional parties. A divided left, although officially banned, also participated: some cast blank ballots, while others believed it would be more useful to back the democratic sectors of traditional parties.
The dialogue between politicians and the military gathered momentum but was marked by advances and setbacks and accompanied by increasing civil resistance. Uruguay was now experiencing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In 1983 the Interunion Workers' Assembly (or Plenum) (Plenario Intersindical de Trabajadores--PIT) reclaimed the banner of the CNT and was authorized to hold a public demonstration on May 1; it later assumed the name PIT-CNT to show its link with the earlier organization. Students--united under the Students' Social and Cultural Association for Public Education (Asociación Social y Cultural de Estudiantes de la Enseñanza Pública--ASCEEP), heir to the banned student organizations--were allowed to march through the streets of Montevideo. In November all opposition parties including the left staged a massive political rally, demanding elections with full restoration of democratic norms and without political proscriptions.
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