Ecuador: socialist Arauz and conservative Lasso in the second round of the presidential election
Socialist Andrés Arauz, dolphin of ex-president Rafael Correa, and conservative Guillermo Lasso will face each other in the second round of the presidential election scheduled for April 11 in Ecuador, in the grip of an economic crisis made worse by the pandemic.
Young economist Andrés Arauz took the lead in the first round of February 7 with 32.72% of the vote against 19.74% for ex-right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso and 19.39% for left-wing indigenous leader Yaku Perez.
These final results, proclaimed by the secretary of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Santiago Vallejo on the night of Saturday to Sunday, were approved by four of the five members of the CNE present at the end of a long session initiated Saturday morning and which ended late at night.
The winner of the second round will succeed outgoing President Lenin Moreno, ex-ally of President Correa (2007-2017), who was not standing for re-election and will end his four-year term on May 24.
Environmental lawyer Yaku Perez, candidate of the Pachakutik party, the political arm of the indigenous movement, denounced a fraud in favor of his right-wing opponent, who was narrowly ahead of him.
“On the 3rd day (of the preliminary count) we were in second place and on the 4th day, they put us in third place. It’s fraud!”, He said on Saturday from Riobamba (south).
The indigenous leader had requested, in vain, a new count of the votes to the CNE and he could now legally challenge these final results of the first round in court, in which 16 candidates participated.
– Correism and anti-correism –
The centrist Xavier Hervas of the Democratic Alliance party placed fourth with 15.68%, the other candidates being around 2%.
“Today, democracy has triumphed. We are going to this second round with energy and optimism,” said Guillermo Lasso, in a statement issued after the proclamation of the final results.
This 65-year-old conservative, who is running for the third time in the presidential election under the banner of his Create Opportunities movement (Creo, right), is the main opponent of Rafael Correa.
He had been defeated in the first round in 2013 against the former president and then beaten again in 2017 but by only two points in the second round by Lenin Moreno.
In addition to a clash between the left and the right, “announces the fight correism-anticorréism”, declared to AFP the political scientist Esteban Nichols of the Andean university Simon Bolivar, according to which Lasso will have to “seek alliances with antagonists “such as supporters of Perez and Hervas.
Andrés Arauz, 36, former Minister of Correa and candidate for the Union pour l’Esperance coalition (Unes, left), failed to win in the first round as his mentor in 2009 and 2013, for lack of have a majority of the votes plus one or at least 40% of the votes with ten points ahead of the next.
According to Mr Nichols, he has captured the electorate of the former president, who has lived in Belgium, his wife’s country, since he stepped down from power and was sentenced last year in absentia to eight years in prison for corruption.
“By itself it does not generate votes. People voted for Correa,” said the analyst.
– Indigenous mobilization –
The natives, who represent 7% of the 17.4 million inhabitants of the country, mobilized to support their candidate, the first native to reach a presidential election so far in Ecuador.
After peaceful vigils in front of the CNE, they began Wednesday a “march for democracy” from Loja (south), near the border with Peru, expecting to reach Quito next Tuesday.
Yaku Perez, who leads this march, foresaw the arrival in the capital “of rivers of people, rivers of hearts to say that our vote is defended, our vote is not stolen. We must recover the votes!”
Faced with the delay in proclaiming the results, nearly two weeks after the first round, and the narrow margin between Lasso and Perez, the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS) have called for “transparency”.
The control body for civil servants in Ecuador for its part asked the CNE on Saturday to allow it to carry out an audit of the electoral computer system before the second round to “guarantee the necessary transparency, legal certainty, legitimacy, adequate use of public resources and fostering a climate of trust “.
On February 7, some 13.1 million Ecuadorians were also called upon to nominate 137 deputies to the unicameral parliament. No party has won a majority, but Correism will be the main political force with around fifty seats in this small oil-exporting Andean, whose economic crisis has worsened with the coronavirus pandemic and the instability of oil price.