In the second round of the presidential elections in Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, the candidate of the right-wing coalition CREO and Partido Social Cristiano won with 52.48%. Progressive candidate Andres Arauz obtained 47.52% of the votes.
According to preliminary results, with 98% of the ballots counted, the Lasso-Borrero duo is considered the winner. Andres Arauz, candidate of the coalition Union for Hope (UNES) recognized Lasso’s victory; he affirmed that it is time to build consensus and build bridges, but it is also time to be organized and continue working to prevent any policy that attacks the interests of the Ecuadorian people and benefits the economic elites.
Arauz emphasized that this is an “electoral setback, but not a political or moral defeat”.
For his part, former President Correa, who supported Arauz’s candidacy, said: “We sincerely believed that we would win, but our projections were wrong. Good luck to Guillermo Lasso, his success will be Ecuador’s success. I only ask him to stop lawfare, which destroys lives and families”.
Lasso in his speech thanked God, his family and his collaborators -among which he mentioned political advisor Durán Barba. He said: “As president I will dedicate myself to the national project to listen to everyone. All Ecuadorians will benefit from change, from a free, prosperous and democratic country. Today we can all sleep in peace and calm”.
He added: “I do not come with a list of who to persecute”. This comment can be interpreted as a criticism to Moreno’s government, which judicially persecuted several leaders of the Citizen Revolution -despite having been elected president by that political force.
Since political advisor Jaime Durán Barba joined Lasso’s electoral campaign – in the second round- it began to gain more strength. Lasso’s electoral campaign worked to highlight a supposed distancing with Moreno’s government – with which both Lasso and his allies had collaborated. Given that Moreno’s government, due to the health catastrophe of the pandemic, unemployment, and the destruction of the State, is considered the worst government in Ecuador’s history, the “distancing” – creating the perception that Lasso was the opposite of Moreno – was key. By managing to create that perception in a sector of the population, they obtained the votes they needed to overcome candidate Arauz.
In addition, the UNES duo started with a disadvantage, was questioned by the National Electoral Council and after several attempts they achieved approval. Added to this were the dirty campaigns, such as the false videos in which supposed members of the Colombian ELN allegedly delivered money for Arauz’s campaign. These videos, although crudely made, were widely disseminated in the Ecuadorian and Colombian press.
A long but relatively calm election day ended, which, unlike the first round, was free of confrontations and accusations. Behind this apparent calm, there is a people shaken by a strong economic and social crisis, afflicted by a high level of covid-19 infections and with one of the lowest vaccination rates in Latin America. And yet, a part of this people – more than 52% of the voters – preferred to vote for the representative of the banks and the big economic groups. Additionally, 16% voted null – an action encouraged by a sector of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Pachakutik and others – and 20% did not turn out to vote (a record number in a country where voting is obligatory, but explainable by a peak of covid-19 infections).
Not for no reason, both Arauz and Lasso talked about building bridges…
*Silvia Arana: journalist is in Guayaquil, Ecuador, describing everything that is happening in that city in the midst of the social and health crisis.