Premature and exasperating campaign

The Electoral Law clearly establishes the deadlines for electoral campaigning, but since most of the provisions are statements without legal force, the law is a dead letter, or at least an agonizing one. In Paraguay, political campaigns are permanent, because as soon as an electoral dispute ends, another one begins. Undoubtedly, the longest one of all is the presidential election, because it underlies every dispute, from the election of the boards of directors of soccer clubs, neighborhood commissions and lately even the bishop's conclaves.

The colorados internal elections for 2023 began on 10 October, as soon as the municipal elections were over. The two candidates, Santiago Peña and Hugo Velázquez, started their campaigns with greater impetus, without the corset of the Operación Cicatriz and the straitjacket of Concordia Colorada.

The opposition, said in singular, even though they are dozens and of different visions, is in its own labyrinth, also pending of what happens in the ANR, because the strategy to be outlined will depend on the definition of the ruling party’s internal elections. They are still searching for a candidate because what the scenario reveals does not seem to be very convincing.

The problem of this premature dispute is its transversality in all public acts, whether in the Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary, the municipality or the governorships. Everything that needs to be solved is solved with the framing of political positions and slow rearrangements for 2023. This greatly harms the dynamics of public policies.

THE REAL DISPUTE. Undoubtedly, the colorado internal dispute is the most visible one because it is the internal dispute of power. And considering the electoral history of the last 30 years, it is almost a fact that whoever wins the primary is the future president of the Republic (the only exception was 2008).

The study of the General Budget of the Nation is a scenario where this internal dispute takes place. Where the very particular interests of the legislators criminally affect the general interest. The education fund was the stage for this selfish and short-term dispute. And once again the deputies got their hands dirty by restricting the budget to benefit clientelism. Why? It is simple: they only respond to their regions, they have a limited view of the country, parcelled, because their seat depends on the votes of their department and of no one else. That is why the Senate, beyond its mistakes, is the one that generally corrects the errors or abuses of the deputies. Their seat is national and that forces them to have a holistic view. Historically, it has been the most prudent and least irrational chamber. And currently, it has been the most resistant to the cartista hegemony.

It is not yet time for pompous speeches and lying promises. It is not yet time to promise to fight corruption or to put education and health first, or to promise work and land for all. It is the time for gathering political operators and in this hustle and bustle of comings and goings, the current leaders and emerging ones are taking positions according to their particular interests. Thus we see that governors who previously responded to Abdo, today are part of Honor Colorado, or senators who entered through the cartista list, today have found refuge in the warm presidential protection. Others keep their distance from both sides, making political calculations.

Taking advantage of the electoral time margin, Honor Colorado has decided to maintain its support to the less and less defensible governor of Central, whose head depends on the majority in the Chamber of Deputies. They point out that there is still a year left for the presidential internal elections and therefore Cartes bets his political and legal team to save Hugo Javier. Will this case be a heavy cross for 2023, as Óscar González Daher was in 2017 for Santiago Peña? For now, they think not. Besides, the corruption debate is not an ethical problem in the ANR.

On the opposite sidewalk, Velázquez campaigns openly and abusing his role as vice president, a position that gives him resources, connections, privileged information and, why not, coercive capacity. Every day he posts on his social networks his frenetic campaign for the recruitment of regional leaders and he is almost always accompanied by a member of the ministerial Cabinet. The message is clear: we have the power, the resources and they are ours.

Meanwhile, Honor Colorado/Horacio Cartes does the same. It has the capacity of the endless wallet of its leader that generates adhesions not only in the ANR but also in the opposition, in the economic and judicial elites. With the votes they handle, especially in the Chamber of Deputies, they have the capacity to modify scenarios and exert pressures for the benefit of the business/political group.

These are some signs of how the premature electoral dispute in the ANR is beginning to cause damage to the country's progress.

This scenario requires a double effort from the citizens to avoid setbacks. As was the case with the recovery of funds for education (a half victory, since the definition is still pending in the Chamber of Deputies).

The advanced dispute for power forces us to be alert more than ever, to claim loudly, to mobilize, to denounce. Because the only victim of this advanced dispute is that other country that seeks to survive in the middle of two sharks that today are biting each other and when they finish their show, they will sit down to devour the little ones, as they have always done.

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