A former Catholic bishop and pre-candidate from the Paraguayan opposition Fernando Lugo, is leading public opinion polls for presidential elections of April 2008 according to the Sunday edition of Asunción daily Ultima Hora.
Lugo, 55, who gave up his clergy condition last December 25 and was suspended "a divinis" by the Vatican, figures with 40.8% of vote intention with the runner up way behind, current vice president Luis Castiglioni with 16.3%. The public opinion poll from consultants COIN, included 1.600 interviews to people between 18 and 70 years, from April 10 to 26, with a plus/minus error margin of 5% reports Ultima Hora. In third place and with 12.4% of vote intention comes the former general Lino Oviedo, head of the opposition National Union of Ethical Citizens who is currently on a ten year jail sentence because of a frustrated coup attempt. Castiglioni who abandoned Paraguay's hegemonic Colorado party that has ruled the country for the last sixty years is working for his own candidacy with the support from other groups who oppose current president Nicanor Duarte Flores. President Duarte is promoting the candidacy of his Minister of Education, Blanca Olevar, who ranks in fourth place with a 9.3% support which is above the 5.7% of Federico Franco, the pre candidate of a traditional Paraguayan opposition party, the Authentic Liberal Radicals. The ruling Colorado party is scheduled to decide its presidential candidacy next December 16, while the National Concertation, made up of the main opposition groups and several social organizations and trade unions is holding talks with former bishop Lugo to have him as the consensus candidate. "If we can confirm the Concertation and Lugo leads the opposition ticket, he has a 64% chance of becoming the next president of Paraguayans", points out the COIN interview published in Ultima Hora. A similar opinion poll last February showed Lugo leading with a comfortable margin.