Left-wing Lenin Moreno defeats right-wing banker in Ecuador's presidential vote

Newly elected President Lenin Moreno and his Vice-President Jorge Glass.
Newly elected President Lenin Moreno with his Vice-President Jorge Glass.
Monday, April 3, 2017

Progressive candidate and renowned disability activist from the ruling Alianza Pais of outgoing President Rafael Correa, Lenin Moreno has won the Ecuadorian presidential election Sunday.

With 94.18% of the official vote counted, Lenin defeated former banker Guillermo Lasso, candidate for the right-wing CREO-SUMO alliance with 51.07% to 48.93%, according to results issued by the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) on April 2. A representative of the South American nation's oligarchy and one of its most powerful banking figures, Lasso proposed a series of anti-poor neoliberal policies that would reverse social gains under Correa.

In what many had already predicted, right-wing vice presidential candidate Andres Paez has called for a recount, even though the CNE said it was a transparent and successful election process, calling for everyone to respect the results.

Moreno is set to continue and expand social programs introduced under outgoing President Rafael Correa, for whom he served as vice president from 2007 to 2013, before working as the UN special envoy for Disability and Accessibility.

Moreno who has been wheelchair bound after being shot and paralysed in 1998, is well known for his advocacy work for people with disabilities and supporting public education. Jorge Glass, who also served in the Correa administration will now serve as vice president. The new administration will be officially inaugurated on May 24.

With Correa departing after 10 years of consecutive rule and a number of social gains made under the Citizens’ Revolution. Lenin's win is seen as key not only for Ecuador but for the wider Latin American region. Ecuador has been a key part of the left-wing pink tide that has swept the region in the past two decades. The pink tide has suffered recent electoral setbacks, with right-wing forces winning Argentina's presidency and Venezuela's national Assembly. In Brazil, the right overthrew the elected president in an institutional coup. This lead some to speculate that the region's swing to the left over the past two decades was over, although Ecuador's results suggests such calls are simplistic.

After decades of social and economic instability including the frequent changing of presidents, Alianza Pais under Correa lifted more than 1 million people out of poverty, tripled tax income and expanded the country’s universal health care and education

The vote on April 2 was the second round of voting after Moreno won almost 40% — 10 points higher than his nearest opponent in Lasso — falling just 0.7% short of winning outright in the first round on Februrary 19.

Close to 12.5 million Ecuadoreans in the country, along with almost 400,000 emigrants around the world, were eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. Polling stations were set up in Miami, New York, London and Madrid.

“It’s a decisive moment for the region because of the extreme right-wing’s reaction in the last years," Correa said while voting.

Moreno’s supporters were celebrating in the central north of Quito, outside the headquarters of Alianza Pais.

The election was overseen by international observers including former Uruguayan president Jose “Pepe” Mujica, working with the UNASUR electoral mission. Mujica confirmed that the voting had been transparent.

Despite the CNE and international observers announcing that there were no issues with voting, similar to the first round of voting in February, rumors of voting fraud were circulated on social media by the opposition.

Defeated CREO vice presidential candidate, Andres Paez had threatened earlier to protest outside of the CNE offices over fraud claims, urging his followers to come out into the streets.

[Reposted from TeleSUR English.]

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