Opposition candidate leads vote intention for Paraguay’s presidential election in April
With just over a month for Paraguay’s presidential election the opposition candidate from the Colorado Party, Horacio Cartes is ahead with 37.3% vote intention followed by Efrain Alegre who represents the ruling Alianza with 30.3%, according to a public opinion poll contracted by the Asunción newspaper ABC Color and released on Monday.
Consultants First Analysis and Studies says that the difference between the two main candidates with an electoral roll call of over two million represents 140.000 votes. The number of undecided remains at 13.2%, but as ballot day approaches it is estimated to go down to 5%. Nevertheless 0.4% of interviews (approx 10.000 votes) anticipated they would vote for none of the candidates.
The rest of the presidential hopefuls are quite distant with Mario Ferreiro from Avanza Pais with 9% vote intention, but the remaining are below 3.2%.
The pollster and political analyst from Consultants First Analysis and Studies estimates that even with a seven percentage points difference the Colorado party candidate could be defeated if runner up Efrain Alegre reaches an agreement with third posted Ferreiro and other minority groups.
However the Colorado party has ruled for most of Paraguay’s political life and only lost to Lugo in 2008 because it was deeply divided. It still controls much of the government bureaucracy and key posts in the three branches of government.
The national election is scheduled for April 21, and will be one of the most monitored electoral processes in the history of Paraguay because of the ongoing suspension of the country from Mercosur and Unasur, as a result of the removal of Fernando Lugo last June and his replacement by Federico Franco.
Lugo was impeached for incompetence and following an overwhelming vote from the Senate, finally decided to step down. Mercosur and Unasur called the whole process illegitimate and an attack on democracy and Paraguayan institutions, and suspended Paraguay from the two groupings until new free and open elections were held.
The Organization of American States did not support the suspension, on the contrary helped with dialogue among the different actors to ensure a political solution to the situation and soon after Colombia, Chile and Peru returned their ambassadors to Asuncion.
The elected president will take office on August 15.
In related news Paraguay’s Foreign minister Fernandez Estigarribia has been on an official visit to Germany and Britain invited by his peers, Guido Westerwelle and William Hague in what is seen as a strong support for the current administration of President Franco.
“Politically it is very significant for the Paraguayan democracy. These two countries share our current situation with rule of the law and full democratic values, and have stated so publicly on several occasions”, said the Paraguayan minister.
Fernandez Estigarribia said that from the very beginning (June 22) Germany supported the new government that emerged from the impeachment and also confirmed the continuity of German cooperation for development.
Fernandez Estigarribia recalled that Germany together with France stated that the European Union will not negotiate a free trade agreement with Mercosur unless (suspended) Paraguay is also present at the talks.
In the UK the Paraguayan minister met with Foreign Secretary Hague, lectured at several universities but was most interested in details of the reopening of the British embassy in Asuncion, closed in 2005. UK diplomatic staff are already working in Paraguay but apparently there’s still no definitive date for the official inauguration