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HomeWorldInternal and external dimensions.. Paraguay is preparing for intense presidential elections

Internal and external dimensions.. Paraguay is preparing for intense presidential elections


In the last election in 2018, President Mario Abdo Benitez of the Colorado Party won by a slim margin of less than four percentage points.

Paraguayans will cast their ballots Sunday to elect a new president, in a vote a center-left coalition hopes will end seven decades of dominance by the right-wing Colorado Party.

This election comes at a difficult time for the Colorado party, which has ruled almost continuously since the 1950s, through a dictatorship and since the return of democracy in 1989, while many of its leaders were finally punished by the United States for graft.

This complicated the position of the party’s presidential candidate, Santiago Peña, a 44-year-old economist and former finance minister, whose political mentor is former President Horacio Cartes, whose name appears among the corruption suspects.

Peña faces lawyer Efrain Alegre, 60, of the Concertacion alliance of centre-left parties, which has a narrow lead in opinion polls.

“They (the Colorado party) know we will win, so they are nervous,” Allegri told AFP this week.

In the last election in 2018, President Mario Abdo Benitez of the Colorado Party won by a slim margin of less than four percentage points.

Opinion polls show that this year’s race will be even more competitive in a country where the president is allowed only one term.

According to the “Atlas Intel” pollster group, Allegri leads the race by a slight margin, with 34.3 percent of the voting intentions, followed by Peña with 32.8 percent. A right-wing anti-establishment party came in third with 23 percent.

“Victory is not achieved through opinion polls or through biographies,” Peña told AFP. He added, “The victory is achieved through the popular vote, which is evident on election day. I am very calm because I know that I have done everything humanly possible.”

Despite their differences on economic policy, both frontrunners are socially conservative, holding hardline positions against abortion and same-sex marriage in the Catholic-majority country.

Not interested

The presidential elections in Paraguay are held in one round, and the winner becomes president.

About 4.8 million of the country’s 7.5 million population are eligible to participate in the elections, which will also decide the next legislature and choose 17 governors.

In the end, the 45-member Senate will decide whether Colorado’s party can effectively stay in power and whether it can outlast it, with the party split between supporters of Cartes and supporters of Abdo.

“If Peña wins, he will have the fiercest opposition, as it will be inside his party, not outside it,” Paraguayan political analyst Sebastian Acha told AFP.

In addition to the corruption that has angered citizens, other issues considered central to the elections include the problem of rising crime, poverty and social inequality.

Paraguay’s GDP is expected to grow by 4.8 percent in 2023, according to the Central Bank, and 4.5 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund, one of the highest rates in Latin America.

But poverty affects about a quarter of the population.

“The big problem in Paraguay is not achieving a more balanced income distribution to achieve greater fairness,” economist Rubén Ramires of the Asuncion-based Paraguay Trade and Investment Consultancy told AFP.

The indigenous minority feels particularly left out.

“Paraguay, although it is among the economies least affected by the pandemic, has not escaped the fact that it is a country where economic inequality still exists among its population,” said economist Stan Canova.

“a shift in loyalty”

“I don’t care. We won’t vote,” said Albino Cubas, who lives in a dilapidated house with his wife and three children in the Tacumbú slum of the capital. “I have not seen a serious proposal for the poor,” he added.

“We’re five minutes away from downtown, from Congress, from the government, and they don’t see what’s going on here. People without electricity and kids hanging around…You can definitely see our needs with the naked eye.”

Crime is also a concern, with an anti-mafia prosecutor and an anti-crime mayor killed in recent months as smuggling gangs settle scores.

Experts say Paraguay, which has no access to the sea and lies between Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, has become an important staging area for drugs destined for Europe.

On the international scene, an Allegri victory could shift the allegiance of Paraguay, one of Taiwan’s 13 remaining diplomatic allies, to China.

“Relations with Taiwan mean the loss of one of the biggest markets, which is China,” Canova told AFP.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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