Pro-Taiwan conservative politician wins Paraguay presidential race

Asunción, May 1 (EFE).- A conservative politician from Paraguay has won the presidential election, putting to rest the concerns that the South American country may cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China.

According to the official provisional count, the ruling party of president-elect Santiago Peña also won a majority in the Senate and at least 15 of the 17 disputed governorates on Sunday.

Peña won 42.9 percent of the votes while his rival Efraín Alegre, from the center-left Concertacion coalition, got 27.5 percent, the Superior Court of Electoral Justice (TSJE) said.

Alegre had argued for switching diplomatic allegiance to China. But the concerns for the country cutting ties with Taiwan were allayed significantly with the result.

“I call for unity and consensus to achieve our destiny of collective well-being and prosperity without exclusions,” said an emotional 44-year-old Peña in a speech to supporters in Asunción.

“The time has come to postpone our differences, to prioritize the common causes that unite us as a nation.”

“From tomorrow, we will begin to design the Paraguay that we all want without gross inequalities or unfair social asymmetries,” said the economist.

Peña will take over from President Mario Abdo Benítez, also from the Colorado Party.

The ruling party has now consolidated its power after seven decades.

Alegre said his “fight continues” after conceding the defeat.

“Obviously, there is great hope for change in Paraguay that is expressed in the vote and calls for a project that manages to unite all efforts,” he said.

The opposition candidate, for whom some polls had predicted a victory over Peña, thanked voters, including those who opted for continuity. “That is democracy.”

The vote, in which almost 4.8 million citizens out of a population of 7.5 million were eligible to elect senators, deputies, governors, and councilors, gave the Colorado Party a majority of 43.75 percent in the Upper House.

The party also won easily in the election of governors by winning 15 of the 17 departments up for grabs. EFE


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