The frontrunner, former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo, was polling about 30% to 40%. A socialist ally of Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian vision who leads a center-left coalition, the Patriotic Alliance for Change, Lugo was suspended by the Vatican in 2006 for his political involvement after attempting to leave the priesthood to run for president.
Paraguay also had a chance to get its first woman president in Colorado Party candidate Blanca Ovelar, a onetime education minister. The Colorado Party had ruled Paraguay for about six decades, and concerns about the party having undue influence over the vote fueled Lugo's candidacy. She was running about 30% in the polls.
On the right side of the political spectrum, retired army Gen. Lino Oviedo carried nearly 30% of poll numbers. Oviedo was part of the 1989 coup that overthrew 35 years of military rule by General Alfredo Stroessner.
Time magazine had an interesting preview of the vote:
- "So far the election campaign has been dirty, and the streets of Asuncion are plastered with lurid propaganda. One poster depicts the Colorados as a plague of mosquitoes that need eradicating, while another portrays Lugo as the Antichrist with devil's horns and a pitchfork. Lugo's campaign has accused the Colorados of tampering with ballots — and campaign manager Lopez says he fully expects Lugo to lose 'between 70,000 and 100,000 votes' to fraud. Newspapers, for example, have published the names of long-dead Paraguayans who are still registered to vote, and international observers have warned of a 'tense electoral climate.'
Ironically, one of Lugo's largest blocs of opponents is Catholic churchgoers who feel betrayed by his renunciation of his priestly vows. 'If Lugo can lie to the Pope, he can lie to anyone,' says Lino Oviedo, a former army general who is running a close third in polls — and is running only because the Supreme Court last year overturned his conviction for allegedly leading a 1996 coup attempt. Says Felipe Lopez, 49, an unemployed laborer who plans to vote for Oviedo, 'Lugo was a man of the church and he gave it all up for what? For ambition.'"