Political newcomer leads race ahead of Paraguay presidential vote

ASUNCION Fri Apr 5, 2013 10:42am EDT

Horacio Cartes from the Colorado Party shows his identity card before voting in the primaries of the party in Asuncion December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer (PARAGUAY - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3BDXS

Horacio Cartes from the Colorado Party shows his identity card before voting in the primaries of the party in Asuncion December 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer (PARAGUAY - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR3BDXS

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ASUNCION (Reuters) - Political newcomer Horacio Cartes led the latest opinion poll ahead of Paraguay's April 21 presidential election, in which he hopes to bring the business-friendly Colorado Party back to power after four years on the sidelines.

Cartes, a 56-year-old millionaire, got 37.6 percent support versus 31.7 percent garnered by 50-year-old lawyer Efrain Alegre of the ruling Liberal Party, according to the survey of 1,846 voters by polling firm First Analysis and Research.

The center-right Liberal Party took over the presidency in June when Congress impeached left-leaning President Fernando Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop.

The platforms of Cartes and Alegre are similar. Well to the political right of former leader Lugo, both top candidates offer business-friendly policies and support the use of genetically modified soybean seeds to promote Paraguay's key farm sector.

One of South America's poorest countries, Paraguay is the world's No. 4 soybean exporter. It was ruled by the Colorado Party for six decades until Lugo broke its lock on power in 2008.

Polling in third place with 10.9 percent of voter support is local TV host Mario Ferreiro, who is leading the Avanza Pais coalition of leftist parties.

The survey had a margin of error of 2.9 percent and was published on Friday in newspaper ABC Color.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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