Monday, April 21, 2008

Paraguayan presidential election

If you follow Latin American politics at all, then you know that Fernando Lugo won the Paraguayan presidential election with 41% of the vote (no runoff required) thus ending over six decades of Colorado Party rule. It is certainly nice to see that party (like the PRI) finally allow competitive elections.

President Duarte was gracious, perhaps more than you might expect given the heated campaign rhetoric against Lugo:

Sitting President Nicanor Duarte hailed the democratic process: "For the first time in our history, one party will transfer power to another without a coup, without bloodshed and without fighting among brothers," he told a news conference.
True enough.

However, there were also legislative elections, which include all 45 members of the Senate and all 80 members of the House of Deputies (both use proportional representation, with five year terms). The Colorado Party had a plurality in both from the 2003 elections.

I haven’t seen the results of yesterday’s elections, which are obviously very important for understanding how much Lugo can do. (This is the government’s official site for results, which up to this point only shows the presidential race). Remember that once the PRI lost the presidency, it worked successfully to block presidential initiatives in the legislature.

It will be also be interesting to see how he addresses regional issues, such as Venezuela’s entrance into Mercosur (which is being held up in the Paraguayan and Brazilian legislatures) and the U.S. obsession with the Triborder Area. As far as I can tell, no one in the U.S. government has yet said anything about the election. Lugo seems quite moderate but expect media attention about “leftists,” “pink tide,” etc. to lump him together with all other Latin American leaders who aren’t conservative.


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