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Paraguay: Referendum Backs Right to Vote Abroad

Update (October 10, 2011)

Paraguayans living abroad will now be able to vote in general elections, after 80% of voters backed the “yes” option in the referendum held on October 9, as BBC News reports.

For the first time [es] in history, Paraguayans held a constitutional referendum on whether citizens living outside the country can vote on general elections.

Paraguay, a country with about 6 million inhabitants, has over 1 million Paraguayans living abroad [es] who left looking to improve their economic status and to find job opportunities.

Politicians’ and private organizations’ campaigns for the “yes” were widely spread through TV ads, posters on the streets and also in the blogosphere.

Hugo Estigarribia, a senator for the Colorado party, posted [es] on his blog “The country we want” about the referendum:

Los paraguayos en el exterior realizan un aporte muy importante a nuestro país y continúan siendo tan connacionales como los que vivimos aquí. Tienen derecho a votar y por eso MI VOTO ES POR EL “SÍ” A LA ENMIENDA CONSTITUCIONAL DEL ARTÍCULO 120 DE LA CONSTITUCIÓN DEL PARAGUAY.

Paraguayans abroad contribute widely to our country and remain as nationals as the ones who live here. They have the right to vote and that is why my vote is “yes” to the constitutional amendment of article 120 of the national constitution.

Pa’i Oliva, a well known catholic priest, also posted [es] on his blog about the referendum:

Y si no voto en el referéndum?

Simplemente mostrará que Ud. es libre. Pero, también, que no tiene una libertad muy responsable. (…)

Que Ud. es un desagradecido, pues estos emigrantes envían más de 600 millones de dólares anualmente al Paraguay, que por cierto es la plata mejor repartida por muchas familias a las que alcanza en todo el país. La soja que ingresa más, se queda siempre en pocas manos.

And if I don’t vote on the referendum?

It will simply demonstrate that you are free. But, also, that you do not have a very responsible freedom. (…)

That you are ungrateful, given that these emigrants send over 600 million dollars annually to Paraguay, which, by the way, is the best distributed money for many families throughout the country. Soy, which brings in more (money), stays within few hands.

But not everybody favors the “yes”. The referendum implies that the budget of the superior court of electoral justice will have to increase, especially in case that “yes” triumphs on Sunday.

On Twitter several people expressed their rejection of the constitutional referendum. Jose Abed (@joseabed) tweeted [es]:

Antes de tirar y despilfarrar un dineral en el referendum hay otras cosas mas importantes para solucionar en paraguay

Before throwing and spending a fortune on the referendum there are other things that are more important to solve in Paraguay

Others consider that the real reason to hold the referendum is to increase the electoral subsidy that the political parties usually receive and expand their campaigns to foreign countries. Juanma Fleitas (@jmanuel_fr) tweets [es] about it:

No me extrañaría que los partidos políticos soliciten + dinero p/ las campañas políticas, para acercar sus “propuestas” a los del extranjero

It wouldn’t surprise me if parties ask for more money for their political campaigns, in order to take their “proposals” to those who are abroad.

Diego Javier (@DiegoJavierOS) [es] says that citizens living abroad should not have the right to vote:

Pyos en el exterior ni enterados estan de lo que Pasa en Paraguay. Si alguien se va a beneficiar de esto son los politicos! “Referendum .l.”

Paraguayans abroad are clueless about what happens in Paraguay. If anyone will benefit (out of the referendum) will be the politicians!

Despite these opposing stands,  many citizens on blogs and social networks do agree on one thing: that everyone should go vote no matter what their vote is, this is what Anto Strauck @Anto_Strauck tweets [es]:

El 9 de octubre TODOS a votar el referéndum

On October 9 everybody should vote on the referendum
Image by Steve Wilhelm under a Creative Commons license  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

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