In the last presidential elections in Paraguay, the Colorado Party won again, consolidating a hegemony of more than 70 years .
Photo: TW-Santi Penap
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Last Sunday, the Paraguayans went to the polls to elect the new president. The undisputed winner was Santiago Peña of the Colorado Party. The 44-year-old conservative economist took 42.74% of the votes, surpassing Efraín Alegre, from the opposition coalition, with 27.28% of the votes, and Paraguayo Cubas, with 22.91% of the voters.
But the most striking thing about the electoral results is that Peña, the official candidate, strengthens the hegemony of the Colorado Party in the South American country. The political movement has only lost one election since 1948. With the election of the ruling party, it is the first positive news from the Latin American right in recent years. Since Guillermo Lasso's victory, all the elections in the region have been tilting the electoral pendulum to the left. Lula da Silva in Brazil; Gabriel Boric in Chile; Xiomara Castro in Honduras; Gustavo Petro in Colombia; even the victory of Pedro Castillo in Peru (who is now ousted) demonstrated the clear advantage of socialist politicians over neoliberals.
This is why today Santiago Peña is the clear example of the electoral counteroffensive that the Latin American right hopes to launch. What better place than from the stronghold of conservatism in South America? Even though Paraguay was already one of the few countries where the government was still right-wing, keeping a president on that side of the spectrum was vital. It will also be necessary for the next Argentine elections, where the unpopularity of the Alberto Fernández government may end in the first loss of the left in years.
The next electoral contests in the regional board come in Guatemala, where the replacement of the controversial Alejandro Giammattei will be chosen. The current Guatemalan president has been characterized by his conservative and right-wing positions in favor of the traditional family and against abortion. Currently, former deputy Zury Ríos, from Valor and Unionista, right-wing movements; and Edmond Mulet for his independent center-right Cabal movement. At the end of the year, there was also a contest in Argentina, where the libertarian Javier Milei and the Macrista coalition Juntos por el Cambio are the right-wing cards to defeat Kirchnerism.
The Red Hegemony?
The electoral results of the Colorado Party are only comparable with what the PRI was in Mexico. Since 1948, when Juan Manuel Frutos temporarily assumed power after the dictatorship of Higinio Morínigo, Colorado has not relinquished power, except for a period between 2008 and 2013, after Fernando Lugo defeated Colorado. Not even the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner between 1954 and 1989, who was still aligned as a Colorado politician, was enough to lose popularity.
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As the votes showed, the division between the opposition Efraín Alegre and Paraguayo Cubas (added together they collected more than 40%) paved the way for the new president. This was the only opportunity in which Fernando Lugo, at the time, was able to pick up on the dissatisfaction with Colorado and defeat him in historic elections.
Controversies of Mario Abdo
Despite Mario Abdo coming out with the worst approval ratings in the region (12%), this did not affect the interests of the ruling party and Santiago Peña (president-elect). Abdo Benítez faced 2 impeachment attempts during his tenure: for his “poor performance during the Covid-19 pandemic” and for a controversial power purchase agreement with the Paraguayan-Brazilian Itaipu hydroelectric plant. Both impeachment attempts failed in a congress controlled by his party.