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Anti-Correísta vote wins Ecuadorian elections

Daniel Noboa, 35 years old, will be the youngest president in Ecuador’s history. The second electoral round favored the heir of one of the biggest fortunes in the country, whose main political background is the five presidential campaigns of his father and having occupied a seat as assemblyman in the last legislative period. Noboa won with 52.3% of the votes against the candidate of Correísmo, Luisa González, who obtained 47.7% and represented loyalty and experience. Once again, the population had to choose between Correísmo and anti-Correísmo.

Noboa will hold the presidency only until May 2025. This is due to these extraordinary elections had been called to complete the term of President Guillermo Lasso, after the “mutual death” the president applied in May, as the mechanism that allowed him to dissolve the National Assembly is known.

The electoral campaign that preceded these elections can be described as atypical and bland. Firstly, because it was conditioned by the dissolution of the Assembly, which demanded the organization of the elections in 90 days by the National Electoral Council (CNE). This episode was followed by the assassination of the presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio in elections described as the most violent in the history of the republic. Finally, the citizens’ fatigue due to the economic crisis, the insecurity caused by the penetration of organized crime, and the permanent denunciations of corruption among the different roles of the state.

Secondly, the campaign was bland because it did not put into debate and in depth required the essential issues demanded by the population. Although insecurity, unemployment, and the fight against corruption were mentioned by the two finalists in their campaigns, it was not explained how their plans and promises would be carried out. Even, the proposals exceeded the time of government for the winner, since there are only 15 months of government. Regarding this period, one quarter is discounted for the internal democracy process of the parties and movements, that will have to elect the candidates for 2025.

In addition, the campaign took place outside the traditional logic of proselytism due to insecurity and violence. Mass rallies, walks, and the use of public spaces by the candidates were closed. The campaign moved to social networks, as well as to areas conditioned for small audiences, after studying the feasibility of the events. For the first time, candidates and their teams were seen with bulletproof vests and several security fences at several events. Even the media did not know the agenda of the presidential candidates.

The electoral ballot without Correa      

In less than three years, the electoral ballot without Rafael Correa in Ecuador became a defeat for his political Citizen Revolution movement. Correísmo reached the run-off for the second time (2021 and 2023), but once again it was not enough to win the presidential elections in front of an opposing electorate, despite not being united in any party. This does not mean that this political force has ceased to be determinant in politics, since it has about 50 assembly members out of 137 and elected sectional authorities in the three main provinces: Manabí, Guayas, and Pichincha. The defeated candidate, after recognizing the result, congratulated the winner in a democratic expression together with her co-candidates.

On his side, Daniel Noboa won in the regions of the Sierra and the East, especially in the province of Pichincha, where the capital, Quito, is located. In addition, he closely contested the Coast, where Correísmo continues to maintain its electoral niche.

In this contest, the youth vote was decisive. Of the almost 13 million people eligible to vote, 30% are between 16 and 29 years old, according to the National Electoral Council and the Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC). This does not mean that the young voter chooses a young candidate; however, it does require candidates to contest this segment. This is in the context of demographic bonus where Ecuador has the highest percentage of people able to work, but where 7 out of 10 young people are unemployed. This explains why the promise of employment is the most striking.

Challenges for the new president

The challenges are time-critical and of a different nature for the new guests of the Carondelet Palace. In the economic area, the following can be highlighted: a fiscal deficit of 3,500 million dollars until the end of the year to solve the current expenditure for the public sector, to pay the state’s debt to the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) which amounts to USD 10,151.9 million; the generation of conditions that favor employment, especially in the young sector, and to comply with the credits from multilateral organizations.

Politically, Daniel Noboa’s challenge is to be able to coordinate, with a fragmented National Assembly, the approval of urgent laws. Each legislative block has its agenda and does not necessarily coincide with that of the new president. Another challenge is the unfinished commitments of the outgoing government with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), which will demand immediate responses at the risk of paralysis. In the judicial area, the reform of the justice system cannot be postponed, due to the sentences of several judges in favor of criminal gang leaders. In addition to the permanent tensions between the National Court of Justice and the Judiciary Council, the administrative body of the justice system.

On the social front, there are numerous citizen demands. In the first place, the fight against chronic child malnutrition, places Ecuador in second place in Latin America after Guatemala. One of the biggest problems in education is the lack of access of 200,000 young high school graduates to higher education institutions each year and the backlog of the pandemic that has not yet been resolved. Public health is a separate issue, as it requires urgent attention in terms of hospital equipment, medicines, hiring of professionals, coverage, and quality.

But without detracting from the above, Ecuador’s main concern is insecurity, since the absence of a state policy may cause Ecuador to close the year with 40 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, in addition to the problem of massacres in prisons; large-scale drug commercialization and micro-trafficking, and the lack of resources and talent in the National Police and the Armed Forces.

The government period to be inaugurated in December is complex and the new government will depend on the different political forces, sectors, unions, and collectives to move forward in a country in crisis.

*Translated by Janaína Ruviaro da Silva from the original in Spanish.

Autor

Political scientist and communicator. General research coordinator of the Institute of Higher National Studies - IAEN (Quito). PhD in Social Sciences from FLACSO-Ecuador. Last books (2020): "In the eye of the hurricane. Communication Law in Ecuador".

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