Paraguay ruling party loses key mayoral vote

 16 Nov 2015 - 4:27

Paraguay ruling party loses key mayoral vote
Mario Ferreiro


Asuncion:  Paraguay's ruling conservative party lost the mayor's office in the capital Asuncion on Sunday in a surprise midterm setback for President Horacio Cartes.

Popular TV presenter Mario Ferreiro defeated incumbent Arnaldo Samaniego of the president's Colorado party, 51.2 percent to 40.4 percent, according to official results with nearly all ballots counted.

The Colorados had controlled Asuncion for 15 years, and polls had given Samaniego a slight lead.

Ferreiro ran for the main opposition party, the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), with the backing of a broad center-left coalition.

The mayoral race in the capital was the key contest as Paraguayans elected 250 mayors and more than 2,500 town councilors nationwide.

The local elections are seen as a midterm test for Cartes, who took office two years ago and whose term ends in 2018.

"I congratulate the winning candidates. Let's keep working together for a better Paraguay," Cartes wrote on Twitter.

These were the South American country's 10th elections since dictator Alfredo Stroessner was ousted in 1989 after 35 years in power.

They were the first to feature ballots in both Spanish and Guarani, the indigenous language that is Paraguay's second official language.