Epilogue: The Impeachment
of President Fernando Lugo
On June 21, 2012, the Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies voted 76–1 to initi-
ate the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo on the grounds of “poor
performance of functions” (mal desempeño de sus funciones). The following
day, after the briefest of debates, the Senate voted 39-4 to confirm the deci-
sion, thus bringing to a premature end an administration that had initiated
the first democratic change of power in the country’s history, promising a
“new dawn” based on social and political reform in favor of the poor. Lugo
reluctantly resigned, and his vice president, Federico Franco, of the Partido
Liberal Radical Auténtico (plra), who had long disagreed with the presi-
dent’s reformist policies, was sworn in for the remaining fourteen months
of the presidential term of office.
Lugo had begun his presidency in August 2008 on a strong wave of
popular support, promising long-overdue reforms and an end to institu-
tionalized corruption. Indeed, his early approval ratings reached almost 90
percent. However, crucially his policies did not have the support of a major-
ity in Congress: his electoral victory was dependent on an alliance with the
center-right plra, many of whose members opposed key elements of his re-
form program; the Colorado Party, despite losing the 2008 presidential elec-
tions, remained the largest political party in terms of seats in both houses
of Congress, as well as on departmental and municipal councils; and his
reform program (especially land and tax reform) was vehemently opposed
by powerful rural lobby groups with strong representation in Congress.
Unsurprisingly therefore, Lugo’s period in office was characterized by
political instability, crisis, and conflict with Congress. Despite some signifi-
cant achievements, most notably in the renegotiation of aspects of the 1973
Itaipú Treaty with Brazil and free access to basic health care, his ambitious
reform program failed to materialize. On the three areas identified as his re-
form priorities—land, taxation, and the judiciary—his administration failed
to make any significant progress, as the opposition majority in Congress
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