This is already old news, but I should document for posterity that Fernando Lugo of the Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC) won the presidency April 20, defeating Colorado presidential candidate Blanca Ovelar and National Union of Ethical Citizens candidate Lino Oviedo.
The Colorado Party, which had occupied the presidency for the past 61 years — a world record — lost for a variety of reasons. Lugo had been the leading presidential candidate for over a year since I before I heard him speak at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and was favored to win. However, Lugo had to overcome the weight of 61 years of one-party dominance capped by 35-years of rule by former dictator Alfredo Stroessner. Over 2.8 million Paraguayans voted in the election, and Lugo won over 40 percent of the vote, tapping both opposition voters as well as dissatisfied Colorado voters. The mood in Asuncion on Monday — helped by a nice dose of good weather — was one of elation for many people (but not all–most of all the Colorados who lost). One Paraguayan told me in astronishment, "This is the first time in my life that the Colorados haven’t been in power." That’s a true statement for most Paraguayans. In the United States, we talk of the Republicans or Democrats being in power for too long, but we measure this in years. In Paraguay, party rule is measured in decades, where the Colorados ruled for 61 years, and before that, the Liberals ruled for 40 years. It remains to be seen whether Lugo will have a successful presidency and set up the APC and Liberals for long-term rule or whether the Colorados will regroup in time for the next election in 2013.
I’m just happy to have been in the front row watching history happen.