TENS of thousands of Uruguayans banged drums and danced in the streets of Montevideo on Wednesday as they rallied in support of a left-wing candidate who is leading the polls in the forthcoming presidential election.
Waving flags and chanting: "We feel it. Here comes the next president," supporters of Tabare Vazquez, who leads the Broad Front coalition of socialists, communists and former Tupamaro guerillas, gathered in the centre of Montevideo during his closing campaign rally before Sunday's election.
He is making his third bid for the presidency.
The rally was one of the largest political gatherings to be held in recent years.
"Beginning today, Uruguayans are leading a new revolution of change," Mr Vazquez told supporters.
Polls show Mr Vazquez, a socialist and a medical doctor by training, drawing nearly 50 per cent of the vote.
His main rival, Jorge Larranaga of the National Party, is on 35 per cent.
Guillermo Stirling of Uruguay's ruling Colorado Party follows a distant third.
If elected, Mr Vazquez would be the country's first left-wing president, adding Uruguay to the ranks of other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela which are led by progressive governments.
Uruguay, which traditionally has had one of the region's most stable economies, is recovering from a 2002 economic crisis that spilled over from neighbouring Argentina, triggering a currency devaluation and the collapse of several leading banks.
The upheaval left one in three Uruguayans living below the poverty line - a blow to many in this country where social benefits had afforded citizens one of the highest living standards in the region.
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