MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (Reuters) - Uruguay's left celebrated its first presidential victory into the wee hours Monday while partial election returns indicated Tabare Vazquez would win and his main challengers conceded on exit poll results. With half of the votes tallied, the charismatic 64-year-old doctor was just short of the 50 percent needed to win in first-round balloting Sunday. But he should surpass that level when more votes come in from the capital Montevideo, his stronghold and home to half of the country's voters. Backed by encouraging exit polls and projections, Vazquez declared himself winner a few hours after compulsory voting ended in the nation of 3.4 million. "We will begin to work in the morning on the political transition because there is no time to lose," Vazquez told supporters who embraced his platform of wider distribution of wealth and social justice in the aftermath of Uruguay's worst economic crisis. By electing Vazquez, Uruguay joins the ranks of South American nations -- Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela -- which have chosen left-leaning leaders on platforms of poverty alleviation after a decade of U.S.-backed free-market policies that often ended in economic chaos... ..."I think this is the beginning of a cycle of the left in power for 10 years or more," said political scientist Gustavo de Armas... An opportunity lost to employ the vision to step fully outside the left-right failed continuum, and thus avoid the stifling oscillation between futile, anti-solution oriented mini-paradigms withing the failed, larger one. Our choice of government, and our rationale behind it, must begin to hinge upon different fulcrums than the ones that establish these ism that exist within this two-dimensional, "left-right" framework. Choosing justice is the greatest of all-too-few goods out of this paradigm, however; thus, within it, this election must be seen as some level of victory for those interested in the reality of society as being comprised of self AND other, the "good" society maximizing the potential of both.