Ecuador Presidential Elections Head into Second Round

By Taylor Cain
Staff Writer

Ecuador’s presidential election will go into a runoff election on April 2 after February 19’s compulsory vote failed to produce a successor to the ten-year incumbent, President Rafael Correa, says the Washington Post.

The leftist and former Vice President, Lenín Moreno, and the conservative, Guillermo Lasso, emerged as the top two candidates in the field of eight, despite neither reaching the necessary percentage to win.  Moreno concluded with 39.4 percent of the vote and an 11.3 percent lead over Lasso, reports the Washington Post.

Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service says the winner must acquire 40 percent of the vote and a ten percent margin over the next opponent.  Because Moreno fell short by 0.6 percent of the vote, a runoff election between the top two candidates will take place in April.

Incumbent President Correa served for three consecutive terms, which is the longest serving in Ecuador’s history.  Mr. Correa helped the country out of a period of economic instability, says the Washington Post, and has generated tensions with the press, his opposition, and courts, by restricting their powers and freedoms. Mr. Correa’s unpopularity led to a coup attempt in 2010 where members of the armed forces and police, angry at the austerity measures he implemented, kidnapped him in the nation’s capital, said BBC.

Mr. Correa’s ten years in power have been witness to an ideological shift in Latin America.  He was elected in 2007 as a leftist during a period of high left power in the region.  The end of his presidency could see the rise of a “pink tide” as conservative leaders dominate in power across the region, said BBC.  A win for Mr. Moreno could show the resilience of the leftist ideology, while a win for Lasso could signal Ecuador’s ideological flexibility to follow the regional trend.

Mr. Moreno served as Vice President for Mr. Correa from 2007 to 2013, and has the support of Mr. Correa who calls Mr. Moreno his hand-picked successor.  Mr. Correa and Mr. Moreno are both part of the leftist Alianza País party, reports the Miami Herald.  Mr. Moreno campaigned on a platform of increasing higher education opportunity and employment for all.  He continued to advocate for disability rights as a paraplegic and former UN Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, says the BBC.

Mr. Lasso was a presidential candidate in 2013, says The Washington Post, and is a former economy minister and banker.  He campaigned on more of an economic platform than Mr. Moreno did, promising to cut taxes for large companies, promote foreign investments to generate local jobs, and separate the central bank from the government, says BBC.  Lasso is part of the conservative Creando Oportunidades movement.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s four-year stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London could end if Mr. Lasso wins the second round of the election. Mr. Lasso vows to end Assange’s asylum stay to face extradition in Sweden, whereas Moreno will allow Assange to stay in the embassy just as Correa did, says the Miami Herald.

The winner of the runoff will begin his four-year term on May 24, says Reuters,

 

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