After election, Paraguay remains only country in South America to recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty
Santiago Peña, Paraguay’s conservative former finance minister, won the Paraguayan presidential election on Sunday, in a victory for the country’s dominant Colorado Party. He beat center-left opposition lawmaker Efraín Alegre by more than 15 points.
Peña has pledged to maintain Paraguay’s close relationship with Taiwan, easing concerns that the country could switch its diplomatic alignment to China, a prospect floated by Alegre during the campaign.
Paraguay is the only remaining nation in South America that recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign state, making it difficult for soy and beef farmers—core to one of Paraguay’s largest industries—to sell to China. That support is high-stakes for Taiwan, given that Paraguay is one of just 13 countries with formal diplomatic ties to the island nation.
“We have a lot to do, after the last years of economic stagnation, of fiscal deficit, the task that awaits us is not for a single person or for a party,” Peña said in a speech following the election results. “Thank you for this Colorado victory, thank you for this Paraguayan victory.”
The election also gave the Colorado Party majorities in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, as well as netting it 15 of the 17 governorships. The party has held the presidency for nearly all of the past 75 years.
Despite recent polls that showed Alegre closing the gap with Peña, his support weakened due to the campaign of Paraguayo Cubas, a right-wing populist who outperformed polling expectations and effectively split the vote. Peña finished with a plurality (43%), substantially less than the combined totals for Alegre (27%) and Cubas (23%).
Peña is expected to be inaugurated on August 15. At just 44, he will be Paraguay’s youngest-ever president.