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Old guard with a new face

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Cartes was able to use the apparent ‘lack of options’ to attract a significant percentage of electors whose support the Colorados would have had difficulty in gaining with a more ‘hardline’ candidate.  For example, it is estimated that Cartes won the vote of around 20% of  unattached voters, which is the same percentage as Lugo achieved in the 2008 elections.

paraguay-horacio-cartesOn the other hand, though it may seem contradictory, Cartes was able to take the opportunity provided by the ‘media establishment’ to make inroads into the left and the liberals.  He attracted a significant number of the votes of leftwinger Mario Ferreiro (Avanza País) and gathered a good number of votes from disenchanted liberals.  This was the result of the campaign by the main media to portray the elections as a two-way race.  What they failed to see is that by putting the PLRA candidate on an equal footing with with Cartes, they were strengthening still further the tendency to punish the PLRA for their role in overthrowing Lugo.  The newspaper headlines were crucial in getting groups of young urban voters, with no political affiliations, and also those connected with left-wing parties, to switch to Cartes.

This was a crass error by the PLRA.  They believed that by putting Mario Ferreiro out of the race, they could win his votes, but what they failed to see is that they channelled  them to Horacio Cartes.  By talking up a two-way contest, the PLRA dug its own grave.  Mario Ferreiro could have been a third option to weaken  Cartes, taking a significant number of Coloado votes and making it possible to win the election with 37% of the votes, but their blindness led them to make a present of those votes to Cartes.

It may seem strange, but Cartes was able to maintain the image of himself as an outsider to the Colorado party.  It was clear already that this election would be won by the candidate who could distance himself farthest from his political platform, because we are at a time when parties ara handicap for candidates.  You could see this in the almost total disappearance of party symbols in the campaign.  The red and blue scarves disappeared in favour of candidates’ biographies.  These were elections with very little party politics, with no ideological debate, but very focused on the candidates and their life stories.

The complete article can be read here.