The recent Ecuadorian elections were one of the most marked in the country’s recent history. The fragmentation of the vote and institutional mistrust, present today more than ever, are obstacles to governance. However, in addition, the incompetence of the National Electoral Council and the rise of the indigenous movement are two of the most characteristic features of the electoral process.
Since the call for elections, disputes between the National Electoral Council (CNE), the body responsible for organizing the process, and the Electoral Dispute Tribunal (TCE), responsible for resolving electoral disputes, have resulted in delays in confirmation of political organizations. Authorized to stand in the general elections of February 7.
The two parties that had the most problems for its approval were the Democratic Center (CD), led by Andrés Arauz and supported by former president Rafael Correa, and the Movimiento Justicia Social, by the repeatedly candidate Álvaro Noboa Portón . While the former managed to present their candidates, Noboa’s party was excluded from the race, but its process before the ECA will continue.
However, this is not the only controversy. At the beginning of January, and with around 40% of the votes for the election of the president and vice-president in the press, it became evident that there was a mistake in them, as the name and logo of Movimiento Amigo contained errors.
This resulted in an economic loss of $ 500,000 for the state, in addition to many criticisms for its ineffectiveness. Likewise, at the start of polling day, there were some drawbacks, such as the absence of members of the voting reception committees (JRVs), the delay in their installation and the long queues to enter the offices. to vote.
The rise of the indigenous movement
Despite the obstacles and difficulties, aggravated by a pandemic context, the elections were held on February 7. That same evening, after a quick count by the CNE, it was announced that the Union for Hope coalition, led by Arauz, had obtained 31% of the total valid votes.
The surprise came from the second most supported candidate, Yaku Pérez de Pachakutik, who obtained 20.04% of the vote. In third place, with 19.97% of the vote, was Guillermo Lasso, leader of the CREO movement. However, with the advance of the ballot, Pérez fell to third place and, with a gap of only 20,000 votes, Lasso went to the second round.
The possibility of Yaku Pérez reaching the second round has raised great expectations about the possibility of having, for the first time, an indigenous president. Because of this, when the vote count progressed and Lasso overtook the leader of Pachakutik, some voices expressed doubts about the reliability of the process.
This mistrust of the results is not new: in 2017, during the vote between the same Guillermo Lasso and Lenin Moreno, an alleged fraud of the first candidate was reported. However, the case did not go any further due to lack of evidence.
Institutional mistrust and axes of fracture
Ecuador is a country whose democratic institutions have not always enjoyed high credibility. Therefore, if to this structural mistrust were added the continuous logistical and communication errors that have accompanied the current electoral process, it would not be strange if, for the second round of the April 11 elections, doubts about the election results increase.
This would not only affect the citizens’ perception of the institutions, but would also put the next President of the Republic in a delicate situation.
Along with the increase in mistrust, the findings reflect three other dynamics evident in Ecuador’s current politics: the persistence of the regional divide, a deep crisis in the center-right spectrum and that the ‘invincibility’ of Ecuador. Correísmo has disappeared.
The regional divide is evident in the distribution of votes among the candidates: while Arauz concentrated the majority of his votes on the coast, where he obtained an average of 42.94%, in the mountain region Yaku Pérez was the winner in most provinces. Thus, if the Correa-anticorrheism axis persists in the discourse of political actors, in practice the distribution of votes responds more broadly to regional differences.
Regarding the crisis in the right and center-right parties, after eight years of campaigning and three consecutive elections, Lasso has not been able to consolidate his conservative proposal as the great political alternative to the ruling party.
In comparison with the results of the 2017 elections, where he obtained 28% of the votes in the first round, in five years he lost almost 10% of his electorate. The results of the legislative elections reinforce the crisis of the conservative forces. Of the 137 seats, only 23.33% will be made up of legislators of this tendency (CREO Movement, Christian Social Party, United Equator Movement and Construye).
Finally, corrisism is no longer an unbeatable force. His candidate, Andrés Arauz, got around 7% less support than his predecessor, despite Correa’s continued presence in his campaign.
Despite the expectations of winning in the first round, a second round will be necessary. Moreover, if it wins in the second round, it will be a minority government, as it has failed to secure the 69 MPs needed to control parliament.
Fragmentation and disenchantment
These elections, in addition to the shadows generated by the poor performance of the National Electoral Council, are characterized by the emergence of a political scenario different from that of Ecuador over the past decade. On the one hand, the distribution of votes is clear. On the other hand, the emergence of the indigenous movement as a solid electoral option which not only has options in the provinces with the largest indigenous population (Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cañar), but also wins votes in popular urban centers (for example, south of the city of Quito or in the province of Azuay).
The right-wing or center-right voter has little reason to hope. Since 1998, no party of this tendency has won a presidential election. Shippers have reason to be concerned. Former President Correa is no longer himself and the candidates for his movement are not always the winning choice.
Arauz will have to compete in the second round knowing that his critics will try to encourage the vote on any other option to prevent the former president and his long shadow from returning home.
In the midst of the most dilapidated elections of the last 20 years, with the distribution of power between four political forces of legislative power, which will generate a very weak government, and under the shadow of institutional mistrust. Quo Vadis, Ecuador?
Translation by Maria Isabel Santos Lima
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