The candidate of the ruling Colorado Party, Mario Abdo Benitez, and the opposition Ganar Alliance's candidate Efrain Alegre both proposed to reform the legal system of Paraguay to give confidence to foreign investors in the only debate before the April 22 presidential elections.
The debate was held at the Central Bank of Paraguay offices and its discussion topics included economic development and environment; education and social integration; institutions and gobernability; health and childhood; and legal and physical security.
But the discussion focused on Paraguay's institutions, especially the legal system. The opposition candidate suggested a change to the legal power in order to provide the country with a better institutional framework, to combat the idea of the government as a “booty” for candidates.
“Paraguay has no chance of developing with this judicial system. The Judicial Power is uncapable of offering legal safety,” said the opposition candidate. In a similar fashion, Abdo Benitez said it is necessary to “depoliticize” justice to do the “qualitative heap.”
“I wish for a Paraguay in which a lawyer is certain that a correct defense can win a case, without depending on a senator or representative to win,” said Ado Benitez.
Regarding corruption, Alegre warned there would be “political forces that will resist” the reform because “they're very comfortable with that legal power.”
“It's the comfort of the mafia and corruption... Paraguay has no future without a legal reform,” said Alegre.
Abdo Benitez talked about the need of building “credibility” within the justice system and committed to leading the change process. “One of the biggest obstacles for the development of our country is the lack of credibility of the judicial power, definitively. I'm committed to leading a process of a legal structural reform, in shape and personnel. A structural reform is useless with morally damaged men,” said Abdo Benitez.
Alegre also accused Abdo Benitez of having contract agreements with the state, and promised to never do business with the state. “That's the Paraguay we need to change. I've never done business with the State and will never do. I want to be president for all Paraguayans,” said Alegre.
On April 22 Paraguay will elect its new president, as well as 17 governors, 45 senators, 80 congress representatives, and 18 representatives to the Parlasur, Mercosur’s parlament.
A recently published poll for Paraguay's upcoming presidential elections shows Abdo Benitez leading the polls with 55.7 percent of voter intention. Alegre, of the coalition between the Guasu Front and the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, is behind by 24 points with 31 percent of voter intention.