Mario Ferreiro, of the Febrerista Revolutionary Party and the Together We Can alliance, won the Asuncion mayoral race Sunday, Nov. 15, beating his closest challenger, incumbent mayor Arnaldo Samaniego, by more than 10 points.
But who is he and what can we expect of his plans for Paraguay’s capital Asuncion?
Mario Ferreiro, a journalist, initially who entered politics in 2012 with the center-left Guasu Front, or FG, coalition.
The FG is headed by former President Fernando Lugo, who was ousted from power in a constitutional coup the same year.
"A festive climate surrounds Mario Ferreiro, during the final vote count."
In 2013, Ferreiro unsuccessfully ran for president against current president Horacio Cartes with the center-left coalition Forward Country. Since then, he has continued as the host of the radio show "Mario x 800" and the television program "The Mañanero."
"In my old home, with my companions @yolandapark1 and #CarlosTroche."
With Ferreiro’s victory, Asuncion could see a political change. The shift could also signal popular will for broader change across Paraguay when the presidential race comes around again in 2018.
Ferreiro has promised to improve transparency in city institutions and describes his platform as focused on resolving the problems of social inequality.
"There are a hundred thousand people living in flood zones," he said in an interview with teleSUR. "Infrastructure is needed to protect our people from the floods."
Mario Ferreiro (L) poses with youth voters. I Photo: Twitter/Mario Ferreiro
The rise in Ferreiro’s popularity reflects growing popular discontent with the Colorado Party and its neoliberal policies. In recent weeks, students, teachers, medical staff, and transport workers have launched strikes to protest the lack of government support for public institutions. Campesinos, indigenous people, and educators have also marched on Asuncion to demand President Cartes resign and to protest policies that contribute to poverty and weak institutions.
Amid the wave of protests, diverse social sectors and unions have declared their participation in a general strike planned for Dec. 18, one month after the municipal elections. The action, the second general strike in President Cartes’ two years in office, will demand freedom of association and expression, solutions to various disputes, and social justice policies that benefit the people, not just corporations.
Ferreiro’s social-democratic Revolutionary Febrerista Party, or PRF, is now part of the newly formed Together We Can alliance, which unites various left and center-left parties. The coalition also includes the main traditional opposition to the ruling Colorado Party, the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, as well as former President Lugo's FG coalition.
During his presidency, Lugo introduced policies to combat poverty, including creating new free treatment hospitals and investing in housing programs for low-income people.