Paraguay elected – yesterday, Sunday – a president from the right-wing Colorado party that has held power in the country for nearly 8 decades, declaring its rejection of his center-left competitor, who ran under the slogan of combating rampant institutional corruption.
And the Electoral Commission reported that Santiago Peña, a 44-year-old economist and former finance minister, won more than 42%, according to the results, after 90% of the ballots were counted.
His rival, Efrain Allegri, 60, of the center-left coalition of parties, got 27.5 percent, despite a narrow lead in opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s elections.
The result bucked the recent trend in Latin America, with voters voting for left-wing parties to punish the political class and major parties.
Voters in Paraguay also voted to elect their deputies, with the Colorado party achieving the largest share in the Senate, at about 43%.
Although voting is compulsory in this country, the participation rate was only 63%.
These elections came at a difficult time for the Colorado Party, which has ruled almost continuously since the 1950s, despite the regime’s transformation from dictatorship to democracy in 1989.
During the election campaigns, Peña was forced to defend himself against the stigma attached to his mentor, former President Horacio Cartes, whom Washington officially described in 2022 as “extremely corrupt” and prevented him from entering and dealing with US soil.
He thanked Peña Cartes for his “obstinate devotion to the party” in his first speech after his election to cheers from his supporters at the party’s headquarters.
Allegri conceded defeat, saying, “The effort was not enough.”
Corruption was one of the main themes in the elections, as Paraguay ranks 137th out of 180 in the ranking of the NGO Transparency International.