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Elections in Ecuador: in an uncertain scenario, the future of the country is defined between two opposing models

“What is my queen going to wear? Onion? Carrot? “Avocado?”, the questions come almost in chorus, from various stalls in the Iñaquito market, in the north of the capital of Ecuador.

There are few customers at 3 in the afternoon, when there is just an hour before closing. There are no election posters or campaign atmosphere here. But some vendors are worried about this Sunday’s runoff, when Two opposing models of country face each other at the polls.

“I don’t know who to vote for… I don’t know if the candidates are prepared to govern this country,” says Marta, from her vegetable stand. Like her, there are thousands of voters who are not sure which ballot they will choose. Others do: for many, What is at stake is the return of Correismo or the commitment to a new space.

This second round faces the heir of Correismo, Luisa González, who may be the first woman to win a presidential election, and the businessman Daniel Noboawho at 35 years old can become the youngest president of Ecuador.

Two opposite profiles in almost everything but who sent very similar messages in the last stretch of the campaign to attract undecided voters who will be the key to opening the gate of the Carondelet presidential palace.

Analysts do not dare to predict an outcome. The latest polls showed a slight advantage for Noboa, although the difference was narrowing as González’s voting intention rose. In addition, more than 10% of voters were undecided, a portion of the registry that will be crucial this Sunday.

Luisa González, the candidate of Rafael Correa’s party in Ecuador. Photo: EFE

Some 13.4 million Ecuadorians will return to the polls in early elections that show the political instability in this country, at the same time immersed in the worst security crisis in its history, with an increasingly marked presence of drug trafficking gangs that terrorize and order kidnappings and murders even when many of their leaders are in jail.

In this context, and after a campaign marked by bulletproof vests and strict guarding of the candidates, this Sunday there will be some 100,000 military and police officers deployed throughout the country to protect the safety of voters, the authorities announced.

Short term

Whoever wins this Sunday, he will have a short mandate ahead of him and in a few months he will be involved in a new electoral campaign.

The next president He will only govern until May 2025when the current mandate of conservative Guillermo Lasso should end, who dissolved Congress and called early elections to avoid a political trial that threatened to remove him after accusing him of an alleged case of corruption that the president categorically denies.

Cornered by the majority opposition in Parliament, Lasso resorted in May to the constitutional mechanism known as “crossed death,” which will force him to leave power practically halfway through his term. Both the Legislative and the Executive that he assumes after these elections – there is no confirmed date, but it will be at the beginning of December – will only complete the mandate that was left unfinished.

González, 45, a Citizen Revolution candidate and political goddaughter of former populist president Rafael Correa, was the winner of the first round on August 20, with 33.61% of the votes, when there were eight candidates. Her running mate is Andrés Arauz, who faced Lasso in the 2021 elections and was defeated in the runoff.


Ballotage Candidates in Ecuador

In second place was Noboa, heir to a fortune amassed by his father, Alvaro Noboa, a banana businessman who is among the richest men in the country and failed in five attempts to become president. The National Democratic Action (ADN) candidate obtained 23.47% of the votes and surprised politicians and ordinary citizens because he was not among the favorites.

It was thanks to the support of right-wing forces, although he defines himself as center-left and tries to shake off his family heritage a little. But his family was precisely the main support of his campaign, since he does not have a party apparatus like González. His running mate is also a woman, Verónica Abad, a 46-year-old businesswoman who shows herself as a “classic conservative” defender of family, life and property.

Open end

The forecasts are now uncertain. Victory in the first round does not assure González the presidency. Several analysts here point out that, just as there are a “hard vote” from Correismthe faithful followers of the former president, there are also a large portion of “anticorreístas” that they would vote for any candidate who faced her.

“Just as it was known before the first round that Luisa González would obtain around a third of the votes, that figure also seems to be a ceiling,” he explained to Clarion the political analyst Santiago Basabe. His gaze coincides with that of several observers and journalists here.

But González showed great effort in the runoff campaign for change his image and separate himself from his political godfatherwhich garners as many detractors as admirers.

Candidate Daniel Noboa at his campaign close, on Thursday in the province of Santa Elena, Ecuador.  Photo: EFECandidate Daniel Noboa at his campaign close, on Thursday in the province of Santa Elena, Ecuador. Photo: EFE

In the first round, the lawyer, former legislator and former second-line official of the Correa Executive – who governed from 2007 to 2017 – relied on the motto “for the resurgence of the country”, and repeated the formula “we already did it, We will do it again,” as a way of showing his party’s experience in management.

Now, however, as an electoral slogan it bets “for the good of all” and calls for a “change” to leave behind the liberal governments of recent years. The candidate talks about the need for reconciliation and how her experience in the Correa government can be useful in the 17 months of government that the winner will have.

Noboa was the electoral surprise. Almost unknown in politics, except for the position of deputy in the dissolved Assembly, he rose in silence until he entered the runoff with a tough-on-crime speech, when the country was shocked by the murder of Fernando Villavicencio, one of the presidential candidates in the first round, who was gunned down by hitmen after an electoral event in Quito ten days before that election.

Unlike his rival, Noboa does not have a partisan apparatus to promote his candidacy. Thus, the candidate chose to lean unreservedly on his wife, the young “influencer” Lavinia Valbonesi, and his mother, who has been accompanying him for months on his tours throughout the country bringing help to the most needy populations, especially large boxes. of oats from a globally recognized brand of which his father owns the franchise in Ecuador.

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