Categories
Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

Paraguay“s conservatives score big election win, defusing Taiwan fears

2023-05-01T01:07:56Z

Paraguay’s ruling candidate Santiago Pena, 44, scored a big win in the country’s presidential election on Sunday, tightening the conservative Colorado Party’s political grip in the country and defusing fears about the end of diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Pena, who has pledged to maintain Paraguay’s long-standing Taiwan relations, had 42.7% of the vote with over 99% of ballots counted, a more than 15-point lead over center-left rival Efrain Alegre, who has argued for switching allegience to China.

“Thank you for this Colorado victory, thank you for this Paraguayan victory,” Pena said in a speech. Alegre acknowledged the result. Current President Mario Abdo congratulated Pena as “president-elect”, as did the leaders of Brazil and Argentina.

Colorado and right-wing party candidates also performed strongly in congressional elections and governor races, with some provinces recording a historic Colorado majority over opposition rivals.

The election result leaves Pena facing a challenge to rev up Paraguay’s farm-driven economy, shrink a major fiscal deficit and navigate rising pressures from soy and beef producers to ditch Taiwan in favor of China and its huge markets.

“We have a lot to do, after the last years of economic stagnation, of fiscal deficit, the task that awaits us is not for a single person or for a party,” Pena said in his victory speech, calling for “unity and consensus”.

It also underscores the dominance of the Colorado Party, which has ruled for all by five of the last 75 years and has a fierce campaign machine, despite rising discontent from some voters over the slowing economy and corruption allegations.

“Once a Colorado always a Colorado,” said Eugenio Senturion, 65, as he voted on Sunday at his local polling station in the area of Jara, Asuncion.

Dry weather helped voter turn-out, analysts said, with queues to cast ballots long after polling stations were formally meant to close at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT).

“All day we’ve observed high levels of participation,” an observer for the Organization of American States (OAS) electoral mission said.

Not all voters were happy, however, reflected in a larger-than-expected share for populist Paraguayo Cubas who had almost 23% of the vote in third place, reflecting wider support for anti-establishment candidates around Latin America.

“I’m worried about crime. All the candidates are the same for me,” said 34-year-old mother of three, Maria Jose Rodas, as a busload of voters arrived at the inner-city polling station. “Nothing will change.”

At the Mariscal Francisco Solano López school in the capital Asuncion, Ramona Oddone was one of the first in line to cast her ballot and was hopeful for a new direction.

“Look at all the young people taking part – that shows people want change,” the 79-year-old retired schoolteacher told Reuters. “They need jobs and I need a better pension.”

The Colorado Party has dominated politics in the landlocked South American country since the 1950s. But its popularity has been hit by a slowing economy and graft allegations.

The build-up to the election has been dominated by the economy, corruption allegations and the candidates’ views on Taiwan. Paraguay is one of only 13 nations to maintain formal diplomatic ties with the democratically governed island that China views as its territory.

Alegre had criticized those ties, which have made it hard to sell soy and beef to China, a major global buyer. Pena had said he would maintain ties with Taiwan.

Alegre on Sunday warned of reports of voter obstruction in the north of the country and said he would not “give in” to attempts to prevent citizen participation.

Fiorella Moreno, 23, who sells ice cream, felt that none of the candidates offered hope to her generation.

“I didn’t want to vote, I feel everything is in decline,” she said. “But not voting makes me part of the problem.”

Related Galleries:

Paraguayan presidential candidate Santiago Pena from the ruling Colorado Party speaks at the party headquarters as he and his running mate Pedro Alliana lead Paraguay’s presidential race, according to early results, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

A woman holds a Paraguayan flag at the Colorado Party headquarters on the day of elections, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

People queue at a polling station during Paraguay’s general elections, in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo

People queue at a polling station during Paraguay’s general elections, in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo

Paraguay’s main opposition presidential candidate and leader of the centre-left Concertacion Nacional coalition Efrain Alegre, gestures after voting during elections, in Lambare, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo

People work at a polling station during Paraguay’s general elections, in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo

Paraguay?s President Mario Abdo shows a ballot before casting his vote during Paraguay’s general election, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 30, 2023. Paraguay Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

People queue to vote in Paraguay’s general elections, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

People queue to vote in Paraguay’s general elections in Asuncion, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

A man casts his vote in Paraguay’s general elections, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 30, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

A vehicle drives past an electoral banner, a day before presidential elections, in Lambare, Paraguay April 29, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo

A staff member of Paraguay’s Superior Court of Electoral Justice moves a box containing a voting machine into a public school, which will be a polling station, a day before the presidential election, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 29, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Members of the National Police prepare a day before presidential elections, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 29, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo

A view of voting material in a public school class room, which will be a polling station, a day before the presidential election, in Asuncion, Paraguay April 29, 2023. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

A vehicle drives past an electoral banner, a day before presidential elections, in Lambare, Paraguay April 29, 2023. REUTERS/Cesar Olmedo
WP Radio
WP Radio
OFFLINE LIVE