A former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo is the candidate with the best image among voters for the 2008 Paraguayan presidential, while current head of state Nicanor Duarte ranks ten, according to a public opinion poll released Tuesday in the capital Asunción.
Lugo a former bishop from the poorest dioceses in Paraguay was suspended by the Vatican following his resignation to his clerical condition last December, while president Duarte needs to modify the constitution if he goes ahead with his re-election plans. According to the COIN survey published last Sunday in the Ultima Hora Asuncion newspaper, 63% of interviews have a "good or very good" opinion of Lugo with only 8% "bad or very bad". Runner up with 38% support among the 13 presidential hopefuls figures the leader of UNACE, National Union of Ethical Citizens, General Lino Oviedo who is currently in a military prison for having organized a frustrated coup. Anyhow he is banned from being a candidate in 2008. In third place comes the current Minister of Education, Blanca Ovelar from the ruling Colorado Party, with a positive support of 34% and 29% negative. However president Duarte only figures with a 20% "good or very good" rating, --tenth in the listÃÂ¢€"and behind vice president Luis Castiglioni (24%) and "Goli" Stroessner, grandson of a former Paraguayan dictator, and who leads a dissident group in the ruling Colorados. The survey was done between January 13 and February 7 covering a universe of 1.600 voters including a question about the possible presidential candidates from the different political parties. An overwhelming 85% mentioned Lugo and 67% president Duarte. "Leaving aside the constitutional controversy regarding their qualifications' compliance to compete in 2008, both candidates are clearly positioned well ahead of the rest of hopefuls", said Ultima Hora. Opposition parties with parliamentary representation a few months ago created the National Concertation, (following on the successful Chilean experience) with the purpose of agreeing on an only candidate to confront the Colorado Party which has ruled the country for over eight decades, in the 2008 presidential election.