When Silva announced in July 1949 that the suspended elections would be held in January 1950, the opposition United Mexican Party had little hope of victory, since Silva's wartime propaganda campaign had depicted its leadership as little better than traitors. In desparation, the U.M.P. turned to Suarez, who agreed to be their presidential candidate. Suarez opposed Silva's proposed invasion of China, and instead advocated a blockade of Japan and a naval war against Australia and the Kramer Associates home territories of Taiwan and the Philippines, which he judged would bring the U.S.M. greater gains. Although Suarez intended to continue the war, he became the de facto peace candidate, attracting those who wanted the war to end with the status quo ante bellum, as well as supporters who agreed with his strategic concepts and internal opponents of the Silva regime.
The 1950 Mexican elections were marked by violence, with each party accusing the other of terrorizing opposition voters, accusations that were substantiated against both parties afterwards. Suarez criticized Silva for not making provisions for servicemen's ballots, claiming that he "fears the voice of those whom he would send to useless slaughter in China." Silva responded by accusing Suarez of "demagoguery of the meanest kind, and serving the interests of the warlords of Japan and Taiwan."
Suarez received 16,077,797 votes on election day, 50.9% of the total. However, Silva claimed irregularities in the California and Jefferson balloting, which Suarez dismissed by pointing out that "government agents counted the ballots, and all these are Silva appointees."
The campaign violence continued to worsen as 19 January, the day of Suarez' inauguration, approached. There was a mass protest in Mexico City on the evening of 15 January in which fifteen people died in clashes between Suarez' supporters and opponents. Similarly violent demonstrations took place took place the next day, and the U.S.M. appeared to be on the brink of anarchy. Colonel Vincent Mercator, commander of the Guadalajara garrison, unilaterally declared martial law in his district, and other garrison commanders throughout the country followed suit. Mercator and ten other garrison commanders met secretly in Mexico City on the morning of 18 January. When he emerged, Mercator declared that it would be impossible for Suarez to be inaugurated the next day, since such an action would provoke civil war. Suarez was taken into protective custody, while Silva was arrested for "crimes against the republic." Suarez remained imprisoned by Mercator until his death in 1955.
In the 1965 Mexican elections, nine million voters out of a total of 31 million crossed out the name of Progressive Party (and only) presidential candidate Raphael Dominguez, and wrote in that of Suarez.
Sobel's source for the life of Paul Suarez is Kenneth Zarb's Guns and Wood: The Life of Paul Suarez (New York, 1969).