Ecuadorians return to the polls this Sunday (11) with a scenario very different from that presented in the first round of the presidential election, on February 7. On this occasion, Andrés Arauz, a left-wing economist sponsored by former President Rafael Correa, won the election by a large margin over the runner-up, center-right banker Guillermo Lasso.
In this first lap, with a final score of 32.72% against 19.74%, Lasso almost missed the race, as third place, indigenous leader Yaku Pérez, obtained 19.42%. The narrow difference has led to accusations of fraud and demands from the defeated candidate to have his constituents vote a draw in the second round.
The outlook now shows a dispute with an uncertain outcome, and the polls do not point to a clear favorite. The survey by consultancy firm Clima Social, for example, gives Arauz more than ten points of advantage (55.7% to 44.3%). The agency Click Report, however, underlines the small advantage of Lasso, from 51.49% to 48.51%, just above the margin of error, between 1 and 2 percentage points. And Market, meanwhile, offers a technical tie, with Arauz slightly ahead, 42% to 41%.
The Cedatos institute survey indicates, however, that the undecided range is 28.8%, which could lead to victory on both sides. Anyone who stopped watching the film in the first round and only returned to accompany it on the eve of this second round will ask: what happened?
“The second round in general is another election, and in Ecuador, a dispute that is difficult to explain. Yaku Pérez called for the null vote, but the figures indicate that his voters did not obey him,” explains political scientist Simon Pachano. “Most of his votes would go to Arauz, and a smaller part to Lasso. [esquerdista] Xavier Hervas [quarto colocado, com 15,68%] Lasso. What happened was less a polarization between left and right, and more between correction and non-correction. “
Correa, President of Ecuador between 2007 and 2017, actively participated in the campaign in the first round, even though he lived in Belgium due to a corruption conviction. Now, however, he moved away, precisely so that Arauz was not marked by the corrísmo, thus avoiding stoking the rejection. For Pachano, only Correa’s disapproval explains leftists’ support for a banker, because, he says, polarization around the country’s former leader matters more than ideological orientation.
Other movements were noticed during these two months between the first and the second round. Arauz explored her personal life further and took the pregnant woman to the debate with Lasso. He also reinforced his image as a modern leftist.
“Since the middle of the Correa administration, a movement of revival of the left has started to emerge, which has become more popular, that of a less populist and more technocratic left”, explains political scientist Pedro Donoso, director of Icarus. . analysis agency based in Quito. “Arauz is the result of this movement, and he was exposed a lot during this phase of the campaign.”
Managing Director of the Central Bank of Ecuador between 2011 and 2013, in addition to the Minister of Knowledge and Human Talent under Correa’s administration, Arauz proposes to distribute US $ 1,000 to each Ecuadorian in difficulty because of the pandemic. He also criticizes the debt of 4 billion dollars contracted by the current president of the country, Lenín Moreno, with the IMF.
However, he does not want to stop paying it, but to negotiate the restructuring of the debt and the end of the adjustment policy implemented in return for the loan.
Lasso, on the other hand, had to challenge the stigmatization of bankers which research shows causes rejection of his image, especially in a country where 32.4% of the population lives in poverty and 51.1% are workers. informal, according to the National Institute for Statistics and Censuses.
To this end, he traveled to the Andean region of the country, visited indigenous peoples wearing characteristic clothing and made left-wing gestures to advocate for the expansion of LGBT and women’s rights. He also promised to act in the environmental field, one of the main flags of Yaku Pérez. A third presidential candidate, Lasso says he is more likely to attract investors to the country because he knows them personally, since he was an ambassador to the United States, an executive at Coca-Cola and a shareholder in the Guayaquil bank.
Whoever wins, the chosen one will face a difficult situation. “I’m more concerned with the 12 than the 11,” says Donoso of Icarus. “The political model of each of the candidates does not matter, because reality has everything to devour whatever the political model.”
Ecuador’s economy shrank 7.8% last year and growth forecast for this year is only 3.1%, according to official projections.
In addition, the country has been severely affected by the pandemic. After a reduction in cases in early 2021, infections have started to rise again and Quito already has a collapsed intensive care system. Vaccines are arriving slowly and the country only applied the first dose of the vaccine to 1.4% of the population, a rate that drops to 0.7% when considering the two doses.
In addition, Ecuador inherits a complex social scenario, without ever having had a de facto agreement with the indigenous movement, responsible for intense protests in October 2019.
“We still don’t understand this move and what it meant in terms of demand from a part of the population that was not served. Therefore, it could come back to gain strength at some point and generate more. instability, ”says Donoso.
The elected this Sunday takes office on May 24, succeeding Lenín Moreno, who today maintains a very low popular approval, 7%, the lowest in South America.