Team Survey: who are the most prominent public figures in 2021

The end of the year are moments to take stock not only at the individual or family level, but also in terms of events and public figures. In this frame, Consulting Teams He questioned Uruguayans as to who they believed had been the most prominent national public figure in their actions in the past year, and the same with regard to the most prominent international figure.

The results of these types of surveys can be curious, sometimes funny, sometimes they can even lead to a certain frivolity in the analysis. But they can also be subject to a deeper look.

Who we admire says a lot about who we are. Which are the figures that Uruguayans stand out, at the national or international level, responds in part to the situation of the moment, but also reflects deeper characteristics of our society. The mere observation of which areas Uruguayans look to select their outstanding people, and which they leave out, is eloquent of a certain structure of priorities.


At the national level, it is perhaps not surprising that the mentions are comfortably led by President Lacalle Pou, who has maintained high levels of support from the national population for his performance throughout the year. Four out of ten Uruguayans (40%) mention him as the most outstanding figure of the year, with a distance above the rest.

SALINAS: In the background, with 5%, appears the Minister of Public Health Daniel Salinas. In the framework of the fight against the global pandemic by Covid-19, Minister Salinas receives recognition from a part of Uruguayans. The country had, in relation to the fight against the pandemic, two very marked moments: a first semester with high levels of infections and deaths, and a second semester with a lot of control thanks to vaccination. In this context, the minister seems to be a valued figure by many. 2022 begins with new challenges regarding the evolution of the pandemic, but this is another matter.


COSSE AND SUÁREZ: The third place is occupied by the mayor of Montevideo Carolina Cosse with 3%. In his first year in office, Cosse manages to receive mentions as a prominent public figure, with the curiosity that his mentions do not come only from Montevideo but almost equally from the interior of the country.

Sharing the third step is Luis Suárez. As much as the Salteño has not had a good year with the Uruguayan team, and his present is not too positive either at Atlético de Madrid, many Uruguayans seem not to forget that this was the year that Suárez was the Spanish League Champion with this team, taking a particular revenge from his previous club Barcelona.

GACH: Below them is the GACH with 2% mentions as a collective. But additionally, there are minor individual references to other GACH members. Rafael Radi receives 1%, and Gonzalo Moratorio does not appear in the ranking, but receives some mentions (curiously, only among the younger population). Therefore, if the mentions of the GACH were accumulated with that of its individual members, the prominence of this body would be even somewhat greater. There is no doubt that, beyond the ups and downs of the pandemic, many Uruguayans value the contribution that this scientific community made to society as a whole. In fact, it is not usual (we would rather say that it is almost exceptional) for scientists to appear mentioned in this type of balance of the year questions.

The last two prominent places in the ranking return to sport. Maestro Tabárez (2%), who finished his cycle with the Uruguayan team after 15 years in office, and Facundo Torres (2%), the Peñarol striker who had a great season, won the Uruguayan Championship and also had games with the largest selection.


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After them, a wide variety of names were mentioned with 1%. Many of them are political leaders, either ruling party or opposition. References to two recently disappeared figures stand out, former President Tabaré Vázquez and former Interior Minister Jorge Larrañaga. In addition, some referents of the ruling party are mentioned, such as Senator Guido Manini Ríos, or the former candidate for the Mayor of Montevideo Laura Raffo. Among the prominent figures of the opposition are Senator José Mujica, the new president of the Broad Front Fernando Pereira, Senator Oscar Andrade and the former presidential candidate of the FA Daniel Martínez. In addition, a couple of additional figures from the world of sports: the celestial player Edinson Cavani, and the technical director of Peñarol Mauricio Larriera. And finally, a single representative of the artistic universe: Agustín Casanova, who received mentions exclusively among the young population of Montevideo. The low participation of public figures from the artistic world is not a novelty in Uruguay, but it does not stop drawing attention in a year in which different Uruguayan artists had important highlights and even international recognition and awards.

There are other areas that systematically escape the prominent gaze of Uruguayans. Entrepreneurs (in a year in which there were particularly prominent Uruguayans in the world) and academics are some of the most notorious.


At the international level, Uruguayans in general have lower levels of opinion, and the responses are more dispersed. The first place, with 7%, is obtained by US President Joe Biden, who assumed his role in January 2021 after winning the election from Donald Trump.

In second place, 6% mention Lacalle Pou as a prominent figure also internationally. This shows that, in the eyes of some Uruguayans, the president manages to stand out beyond borders, perhaps particularly in relation to handling the pandemic.

On the same plane is the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel who did not stand for re-election after exercising her role for 16 years.

In other words, the podium at the international level is also occupied by political leadership, which reflects the degree to which Uruguayans look at this activity and its figures when establishing performance highlights.


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FOOTBALL: But football also sneaks in here, how could it be otherwise. Argentine star Lionel Messi (4%), and Uruguayan Luis Suárez (3%) are the outstanding international figures that follow in the ranking.

After them another curiosity. The name of Elon Musk, the enterprising CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and many other companies appears with 2%. It is not usual for entrepreneurs to appear in this type of ranking. It is also interesting to note that the mentions of Musk come mainly from young people, a fact that leads us to think that perhaps some members of the new generations are beginning to look at references beyond the classical fields.

Finally, two other foreign presidents close the international ranking: one geographically very distant like Russian President Vladimir Putin, and another very close like Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro. The presence of Biden, Merkel and Putin shows that there are niches of Uruguayans who follow with some attention and manage to highlight performances even at a great distance from our country.

Among the international leading figures at the bottom of the ranking, there is a varied set of names from various fields. But politics remains a center. From regional figures such as Argentine President Alberto Fernández, former Presidents Lula da Silva and Cristina Fernández, to international figures such as French President Emmanuel Macron or former US President Donald Trump. Also the former Uruguayan president José Mujica has his mentions as an outstanding international figure. And one more benchmark in sport (Cristiano Ronaldo) is also part of this squad.

The emergence of other spheres is interesting: religious figures (Pope Francis), the scientific world (WHO President Tedros Adhanom), and business (Bill Gates), and entertainment and entertainment (from Tom Cruise and María Becerra, even Wanda Nara herself).

As was said at the beginning, who we highlight also says a lot about how we are. In reality, it also shows the great heterogeneity of views existing in Uruguayan society.


A historical look allows us to appreciate continuities and curious changes in the looks of Uruguayans. A similar investigation carried out by Equipo Consultores in 2003 showed some characteristics similar to today: politicians, and later athletes, are at the center of the scene. There are no significant mentions to the world of arts, science or business.

The politicians were represented by the president of the moment Jorge Batlle, the leader of the FA Tabaré Vázquez (who would be elected president the following year), Senator Alejandro Atchugarry (who had led the post-crisis economic transition as Minister of Economy until the middle of that year), and the then senator José Mujica. Then the athletes appeared (as now), but (unlike now) not only footballers. Juan Ramón Carrasco (coach of the Uruguayan team at that time), and José Luis Chilavert (Paraguayan goalkeeper who that year was champion with Peñarol, scoring goals from free kick) were the most prominent footballers, but the cyclist Milton also appeared in the mentions Wynants, who had been a double Gold medalist at the Pan American Games that year.

At the international level, the world was in years convulsed by the US invasion of Iraq. All the first mentions have to do with that fact, which shows the level of centrality that these events had in our country. Uruguayans mentioned US President George Bush (who was the one who led the invasion), Pope John Paul II (who from his place was firmly opposed to it), Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (who was finally overthrown and captured in December of that year), and the leader of Al Qaeda Bin Laden (who claimed responsibility for the 2001 attacks against the Twin Towers). Mentions also appeared of the Nobel Peace Prize winner of that year, the Iranian Shirin Ebadi, who argued strongly against the US invasion, and the English Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had supported Bush in the invasion of Iraq.

Escaping to that scene of war and demands for peace that marked the international year, regional and global political leaders also obtained certain mentions. The most prominent were the brand-new presidents of Brazil (Lula Da Silva) and Argentina (Néstor Kirchner), along with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

On balance, a lot changed in the names highlighted by Uruguayans between these almost two decades. Few repeat themselves, both nationally and internationally. But, in turn, there are some other more structural constants. The worlds that are looked at and prioritized are almost the same. Politics and football have a prominent place in the eyes, far above other worlds of reference such as artistic, scientific, business and academic.


The data comes from the latest regular survey of Consulting Teams, carried out with the following characteristics:

• Date of completion: December 14 to 19

• Method: survey via cell phone

• Universe: people aged 18 years and over throughout the national territory (urban and rural)

• Selection: probabilistic through RDD, with gender and age quotas in the final selection

• Sample size: 487 effective cases

• Maximum margin of error: 4.4% within a 95% confidence interval

• Sample adjustments: by region, educational level, sex, age, previous vote and occupation status of the respondents.

• The regular survey of Consulting Teams is financed by multiple clients: political parties, the media, social organizations and international organizations, among others.

• Questions applied:

• Who do you think is the most prominent national public figure of 2021? You can think of political, academic, scientific, religious leaders, artists, athletes, communicators, etc. (OPEN SPONTANEOUS RESPONSE)

• And who do you think is the most prominent international public figure of 2021?


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Team Survey: who are the most prominent public figures in 2021