10.3 million Ecuadorians took part in the early general elections to elect the country’s next president, vice-president and 137 members of the National Assembly, on August 20, amid a wave of violence that has brought homicide rates to record levels.
At around 9 pm, after counting 60% of the votes, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Diana Atamaint gave a public address and confirmed the trend that Ecuadorians will return to the polls for a runoff election on October 15 to elect the country’s since no candidate hit the threshold to win outright.
With 92.92% of the votes counted, Luisa González of the left-wing Citizens Revolution Movement party (RC) won the first round with 33.31% of the votes, while Daniel Noboa of the right-wing National Democratic Action alliance (ADN), to many people’s surprise, trailed just under 10 points behind her, securing 23.66% of the votes. They will now head to the second round in October.
Following them was Christian Zurita Ron with 16.4% of the votes. Zurita is the substitute of Fernando Villavicencio, who was assassinated on August 9 while leaving a campaign rally in the capital Quito.
The key concerns among voters as they headed to the polls on Sunday were the sharp increases in crime, which the government of incumbent conservative president Guillermo Lasso blames on drug-trafficking gangs; and the struggling economy, which has caused a rise in unemployment and migration.
González, a protégé of former president Rafael Correa (2007–17), has promised to address the security crisis by reinvesting in and strengthening the institutions and entities in charge of managing security, which she alleges Lasso and ex-president Lenín Moreno dismantled. She also promised to address the root causes of violence, such as poverty and inequality. She has vowed to increase public spending and revive Correa’s large-scale social welfare programs and public infrastructure projects.
“Thank you, dear Ecuador, for this citizen victory! We continue in this struggle, in which you have already given us a first victory and there will be a great and definitive second victory,” said González.
Noboa, son of prominent banana businessman and former presidential candidate Álvaro Noboa, has pledged to bring in more foreign investment, and has suggested several anti-corruption measures including sentences for tax evasion.
“Thank you Ecuadorians, together with you begins a New Ecuador with the hope of peace, security and employment. We are in the second round, we are ready to work and restore peace to every family,” said Noboa.
According to political analysts, the results have put González in a very difficult position for the run-off. Many predict that most of the candidates who did not make it past the first round may rally behind Noboa in the second round, similar to what happened in the 2021 elections wherein Lasso beat Andrés Arauz in the second round.
The Citizens Revolution Movement swept the legislative elections, obtaining 39.37% of the votes or 54 seats. However, the right-wing forces won the majority of seats in the unicameral parliament.
The right-wing Movimiento Construye won 20.66% of the votes or 28 seats, the ADN won 14.67% of the votes or 20 seats, the right-wing Social Christian Party (PSC) won 11.83% of the votes or 16 seats and the center-right Actuemos alliance won 4.53% of the votes or 6 seats.
On Sunday, in addition to snap presidential and legislative elections, referendums on banning oil drilling in the Yasuní National Park and metal mining in the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve were carried out. In both consultations, Ecuadorians overwhelmingly voted against the exploitation of natural resources.
With more than 90% of the ballots counted, about six in 10 Ecuadorians rejected the oil exploration in the Block 44 area, situated within Yasuní rainforest, a protected area in the Ecuadorian Amazon and one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. 59% of Ecuadorians voted in favour of leaving the oil underground in the hydrocarbon block instead of exploiting it. At the same time, 68% of the citizens supported prohibiting the exploitation of metal mining on an artisanal scale in the Chocó Andino area north-west of Quito.
[Reprinted from Peoples Dispatch.]