Two weeks after the first ballot, the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Ecuador announced, at dawn on Sunday (21), that the banker Guillermo Lasso would move on to the second round of the presidential election, to side of the first place, Andrés Arauz.
After 14 days of narratives and controversy, a decision has finally been made. Once the count is 100% complete, the winner of the first round is Arauz, a leftist candidate sponsored by former president Rafael Correa, with 32.7% of the vote.
The second, thus moving to the next stage of the vote, scheduled for April 11, was center-right Guillermo Lasso, with 19.74%. Third, and therefore out of the race, the indigenous left-wing leader Yaku Pérez, with 19.38%.
While Arauz’s leadership was already clear since the election on Sunday, the 7th, the dispute for a place in the second round was settled in the vote count. The country was suspended for two weeks amid protests, accusations of fraud and demands for a recount.
Like other countries in the region, Ecuador uses two parallel counting systems. The first is the quick poll, based on photos of polling station reports, which usually give a result the same evening. Another, which the first is compared to later, is the vote-by-vote count.
On polling day, the CNE decided to stop the rapid count with nearly 90% of the minutes recorded because it had found a technical link between Lasso and Pérez. At the time, the native chief appeared with a slight advantage over the banker.
As a result, Ecuadorians had to wait for the vote-by-vote count. In addition, the two candidates running in the second round have asked for more than one recount of the minutes in various provinces of the country.
Lasso complained to the CNE, for releasing a projection still with 20% of the quick count done, stating that Pérez was closer to going to the second round.
Pérez, in turn, organized vigils from day one, during which supporters demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the electoral bodies of the bodies. According to the leftist, his opponent could resort to fraudulent methods to ensure his continuity in the dispute and, being a millionaire candidate, he would have the resources to “buy” electoral and tax judges. The dispute began to take on more verbally violent tones.
The clash was in contrast to the 2017 elections. Back then, when Lasso went to the second round against current President Lenín Moreno, the indigenous leader supported him, as he was a staunch anti-corrista.
During the protests against Moreno in 2019, Pérez also did not join the pro-Correa indigenous unions and preferred to follow an independent path. It is because of this that the former president calls him a “false native” and accuses him of being funded by the United States.
This time, however, the friction between Pérez and Lasso has become more evident, and it will be more difficult for the natives to support the banker, as in the past. Correa had reported that as an opponent of Arauz, his sponsor also prefers Lasso as he is usually not present in the whole country and, therefore, could be more easily defeated.
In common, Lasso and Pérez have the fight against corruption. His constituents, however, have even less evidence of agreement. Pérez’s supporters, mostly young progressives, are against Lasso’s neoliberal and extractive agenda.
In contrast, Lasso voters would only support Pérez in removing Correa’s influence, but they fear his estrangement from the reality of the markets and wary of his ability to cope with the economic crisis.
Until the publication of this report, Pérez had not yet commented publicly on the CNE’s decision.
Ecuador inherited from the next president, who is to take over in May, will be a country in difficulty. In 2020, GDP fell by nine percentage points. There is a debt of 6.5 billion US dollars (35 billion reais) with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and an informality rate that has increased during the pandemic by almost 70%.
Covid-19, in turn, which had already punished the country to the point of being the second with more deaths of inhabitants in South America, behind only Peru, is now entering a second wave, filling hospitals again of the main cities. The immunization program is slow, and there are several reports of vaccine hijacking for family members of politicians.