Paraguay’s long-term ruling party wins presidential election WGN Radio 720

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Sunday’s election votes gave presidential candidate Santiago Peña a commanding lead, with nearly all the votes counted, giving the long-serving Colorado Party control of Paraguayan politics. continued to be a powerful force.

Nearly 99% of polling stations reported, so Peña received 43% of the votes, while his closest challenger, Efrain Alegre, had 27%. Colorado’s reign.

Voters also supported Colorado in parliamentary elections, with the Conservatives winning a majority of 45 seats in the Senate and 80n seats in the House of Representatives.

Opponents sought to capitalize on widespread dissatisfaction with the high levels of corruption and deficiencies in health care and education systems exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paraguay’s economy is relatively stable, but poverty rates are high.

Outgoing President Mario Abdo Benitez called Peña “the president-elect” in a congratulatory message on social media before the winner was officially announced. He also congratulated the “Paraguayan people on this election day in a big way.”

Peña celebrated the show that made him president of Paraguay on August 15, while waiting for the official announcement of the final results.

“Today, we celebrate not individual victories, but victories of those who voted for the path of social peace, dialogue, philanthropy and national reconciliation.” “Long live Paraguay! Long live the Colorado party!”

Alegre conceded defeat shortly thereafter.

“Today’s results show that perhaps the efforts we made were not enough,” Alegre told reporters, adding that the division between the opposition was “the change that the majority of Paraguayans are seeking.” It prevented us from reaching our goal of being able to bring our. “

Before the vote, analysts predicted that the race would look fierce and that Alegre could overthrow South America’s longest-ruling party, which has virtually ruled Paraguay since 1947.

“Unexpected results, very unexpected. I think even members of the Colorado Party are shocked by such a huge difference,” said Sebastian Acha, a political consultant. His size gives him great legitimacy, which makes Peña’s victory undisputed.”

But preliminary results seem to indicate voters prefer to stay where they’re used to, and it’s a break for areas where incumbents have fared poorly in recent elections.

Paraguay does not have a run-off vote, so of the 13 candidates, whoever gets the most votes becomes the next president.

The results also appeared to mark a victory for former president Horacio Cartes, who ruled from 2013 to 2018.

A local tycoon who was also president of the Colorado Party, Cartes was a powerful figure in Paraguayan politics, and members of the opposition characterized Peña as a front man for Cartes to rise to power. , stood next to Peña as he delivered his congratulatory speech on Sunday night.

“I want to be a tool for you,” Cartes told Pena at the celebration. “I want you to be sure that the Colorado Party will be the best tool.”

Peña is Minister of Finance in the Cartes government and until recently served on the board of Banco Basa, a regional bank owned by the former president.

Paraguay is the only country in South America that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and since that relationship was an issue in the election campaign, elections in this country of about 7 million people also have geopolitical implications. I was.

Alegre called for a review of the landlocked country’s relationship with Taiwan as too costly. Peña defended Paraguay’s ties with Taipei but said it would seek to expand trade with China, but did not explain how that would happen.

“We have built diplomatic and historical relations with Taiwan for more than 60 years, based on fundamental principles and democratic values ​​for a society like Paraguay,” Peña said.

The Taiwanese embassy posted a message on social media congratulating the “president-elect” Peña.

“Congratulations to the people of Paraguay for showing the world the democratic power of their citizens through their votes,” the embassy said.

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva also congratulated Pena without waiting for the winner to be officially declared.

“Good luck with your mission,” the Brazilian wrote on social media. We will work together to prosper.”

A lawyer who leads the Liberal Party, the second largest political force in Congress, Alegre has announced his third presidential run, this time representing a variety of parties.

Peña’s presidential campaign was hampered by US sanctions against the cult for alleged bribery and ties to Hezbollah, which Washington designates as a terrorist group. Funding and lending to the movement was cut off.

“Cartes was the fundraising officer for the Colorado Party. The cashbox remained empty,” said Diego Abete Blanc, a political science professor who leads the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program at George Washington University. He expected a close fight.

Peña called the accusations against Cartes “unfounded,” and Alegre sought to overrule his claims against the Colorado Party.

“Our enemy is not the Colorado Party, it’s the dirty money of organized crime,” Alegre told reporters.

Long lines formed at polling stations, and it seems that a large number of people gathered on Sunday. Some people complained about delays and problems with the electronic voting system. Paraguay’s long-term ruling party wins presidential election WGN Radio 720

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