Horacio Cartes, a Paraguayan tobacco magnate, faced various challenges during his presidential bid. He was pressed to explain why antinarcotics police officers apprehended a plane carrying cocaine and marijuana on his ranch in 2000; why he went to prison in 1989 on currency fraud charges; and why he had never even voted in past general elections. Still, voters across the country seemed ready to give Mr. Cartes the benefit of the doubt, handing him a solid victory in Paraguay’s presidential election on Sunday. He took 46 percent of the vote against 37 percent for his main opponent, Efraín Alegre of the ruling Liberal Party, with about 80 percent of the voting stations reporting. Electoral authorities declared Mr. Cartes the winner.
Voters will choose a president and vice president, 45 senators, 80 deputies and the governors of 17 departments. The vote was precipitated by the impeachment of Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop who was laicized upon his election as Paraguay’s president in 2008 and removed from office by the legislature in Jun 2012. Lugo was voted out by Congress over his handling of a land dispute in which 17 people died. The top two presidential candidates are trading accusations of cozying up to drug traffickers and pilfering public funds.
Paraguay, rocked two months ago by the ouster of its president Fernando Lugo, will hold general elections in April 2013, the country’s superior court of electoral justice said. “Some 3.5 million people are registered to vote,” in the April 21, 2013 polls, court head Alberto Ramirez said during a ceremony attended by President Federico Franco, who came to power in June after Congress sent Lugo packing. “It has been rumored that this government would not organize elections, or that it intended to delay them to stay in power for a longer time,” Franco said. “The process will be completed when the new president takes office on August 15,” 2013, said Franco, pledging to step down on that date.
Voters in Paraguay have backed a proposal to allow citizens living abroad to vote in general elections. Electoral officials said the measure was approved by 80% of voters, but turnout was put at just 12.5%.
President Fernando Lugo had urged people to approve the constitutional amendment, saying it would strengthen Paraguay’s democracy. More than half a million Paraguayans live abroad out of a population of about six million. Most of them are in Argentina, followed by Spain and the US.