Landslide again in Paraguay vote

There never was any doubt: Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, the durable ruler of landlocked Paraguay since 1954, easily won his seventh presidential term Nov. 6. Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes that in polling 90 percent of slightly more than 1 million votes cast, General Stroessner did a bit better than his party leaders forecast. The last of the old-style Latin American dictators, General Stroessner regularly holds presidential elections - but so dominates them that opposition forces never really have a chance.

Two opponents this year, receiving less than 100,000 votes between them, did less well than expected. Partido Liberal Radical candidate Enzo Doldan won only 5.7 percent of the ballots, while Partido Liberal Autentico candidate Fulvio Hugo Celauro got 3.2 percent. Moreover, a coalition of four other opposition parties - El Acuerdo Nacional - failed to get large numbers of voters either to boycott the vote or present blank ballots. Only 1.1 percent of the ballots were voided.

Is the ballot count honest? The question comes up perennially. The answer, even according to Stroessner opponents, is a qualified yes as far as the counting is concerned. ''What really troubles us,'' says Mr. Doldan, ''is the way in which the general controls the campaign and dominates it in ways that make it hard for anyone else to campaign. The press is censored; we can't get our message across.''

But the opposition admits that Stroessner would probably win in a completely free election. ''He is the national hero,'' Doldan said.

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