Conservative Party Hegemony Tested as Paraguayans Head to Presidential Poll.

Paraguayans are preparing to cast their votes on Sunday in what could be the greatest electoral test for the ruling conservative Colorado Party in over a decade, with the country’s nearly 70-year relationship with Taiwan possibly at risk.

The landlocked South American nation with a population of under 7 million people will begin voting at 7 a.m. (1100 GMT) with the leading candidates, ruling party candidate Santiago Pena, a clean-cut economist, and veteran opposition lawyer Efrain Alegre.

The ballot represents the Colorado Party’s toughest challenge in a decade, as it has dominated Paraguayan politics since the 1950s and has governed for all but five of the past 75 years, but has been dogged by a sluggish economy and allegations of graft.

“I want change, yes, but not with Colorado, because it’s been them for over 70 years, and we are suffering,” said Miriam Sanabria, a food vendor from Asuncion. “We need work, better security, and free medicine at hospitals.”

The political atmosphere in the streets and political discussions has been dominated by the economy, corruption allegations, and the candidates’ viewpoints on Taiwan.

Paraguay is one of only thirteen nations maintaining formal diplomatic ties with the democratically run island that China claims as its territory.

Alegre has criticized Paraguay’s diplomatic association with Taiwan, which has made it difficult to sell soy and beef to China, a major global buyer, and added that the Latin American farm-based economy does not get enough in return from Taipei. Pena has stated that he will maintain connections with Taiwan.

Approximately 5 million individuals are registered to participate in this Sunday’s single-round presidential election, which is winner-takes-all.

Paraguayans are also voting for lawmakers and governors. Results are anticipated to be announced around 7 p.m.

In the final campaign events, Alegre targeted corruption accusations that have plagued Colorado Party leader Horacio Cartes, who was punished by the U.S. Treasury Department this year. He referred to him as the “Pablo Escobar of Paraguay.

” Cartes denies the charges. In his closing remarks, Pena admitted the party’s disagreements and promised to be “a symbol of party unity.”

Catherine Gonzalez, a Paraguayan student, believes that none of the candidates are providing what most normal people require.

“I think they’re very far away from the day-to-day reality people live in, the people who use public transport, the people who earn the minimum wage and must survive, pay rent, and support their family,” she added.

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