Quito A conservative businessman appeared to be heading to the Presidency of Ecuador as voters rejected the leftist movement that former President Rafael Correa started more than a decade ago. In neighboring Peru, it remains unclear which of the 18 presidential candidates will fill the two positions in the June run-off election.
South American countries held elections on Sunday under strict public health measures due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has recently seen a spike in cases and a resumption of lockdowns. Peruvians also elected a new Congress.
Ecuador’s electoral council has not announced the winner of the contest to replace President Lenin Moreno next month, but results released by the agency showed former banker Guillermo Laso receiving around 53% of the vote and leftist Andres Arause with 47%, with more than 93%. From the sounds I returned. Arause led the first round of voting by more than 30% on February 7, while Lasso reached the final with a nearly half-percentage point victory over environmental and Aboriginal candidate Yako Perez.
Arause recognized the elections and so did his main backer, Correa, who remains a force in Ecuador despite being convicted of corruption while staying in self-exile in Belgium out of the reach of Ecuadorian prosecutors. Moreno was also an ally of Korea but turned against him while in office.
“Honestly, we thought we were going to win, but our expectations were wrong,” Correa wrote on Twitter. “Good luck to Guillermo Laso, his success will be that of Ecuador. I just ask you to stop the legal war that is destroying lives and families.”
Correa, who oversaw an economic boom before the country slowed down at the start of 2015, was sentenced in absentia last year to eight years in prison for his role in what prosecutors described as a blueprint that demanded millions of dollars from businessmen in exchange for contracts for major infrastructure projects between 2012 and 2016. He describes the allegations of charges fabricated for political purposes.
Laso took second place in the two previous presidential competitions. He favors free market policies and Ecuador’s affinity with international organizations. During the campaign, he proposed raising the minimum wage to $ 500, finding ways to include more youth and women in the labor market and abolishing customs duties on agricultural equipment.
“For years, I dreamed of the possibility of serving Ecuadorians as the country progressed, so that we could all live better,” Lasso told a room full of supporters despite social distancing guidelines in the coastal city of Guayaquil. “Today, I decided that would be the case.”
Lasso, accompanied by his wife, Maria de Lourdes Alsevar, said he will start on the day of the opening on May 24 “to build a national project that continues to listen to everyone, because this project will be yours.”
Despite his stated conservative stance on issues such as marriage equality, he has promised to accept other views. He is expected to arrive in the capital, Quito, on Monday.
Ecuador is experiencing a deep economic recession that many fear will worsen as lockdowns return due to the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. Ecuador had recorded more than 344,000 cases and more than 17,200 deaths as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
Grace M. Jaramillo, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia whose research includes Latin America, said the new president’s main task will be to “de-polarize the country.” “There will be no indications of governance if the new government does not continue and creates a platform through which to reach agreements with the (National) Council.”
In Peru, experts did not expect sweeping election results quickly. The presidential election turned into a grassroots contest in which one of the candidates spoke about how he was suppressing his sexual desires. The busy field of presidential candidates came months after the country’s political chaos reached a new level in November, when three men took over the presidency in one week after Congress removed one of them over corruption allegations, and protests forced his successor to resign in favor of the third. .
All of the former Peruvian presidents who have ruled the country since 1985 have been trapped in allegations of corruption, and some have been imprisoned or detained in their palaces. One of them died of suicide before the police could arrest him.
Claudia Navas, a political, social and security risk analyst at Global Control Risks, said the fragmented elections were the result of a political system with 11 parties lacking ideological coherence. She said that Peruvians generally do not trust politicians, and corruption is the main driver of disappointment with the political system.
Navas said the congressional elections will likely lead to a divided legislature, with no party obtaining a clear majority, and political alliances remaining short-lived. She said it is likely that the new Congress will continue to exercise its accountability powers to consolidate its influence and prevent any initiative that threatens its power.
Therefore, we are likely to continue seeing significant legislative populism. This means moves that seek to meet public needs and demands in the short term at the expense of sustainability in the medium and long term. Regardless of who wins, we believe that it is somewhat unlikely that the president will complete his or her term due to the populist stance of Congress and the threat of political instability is likely to persist through the administration.
To avoid the June run-off, a candidate would need more than 50% of the vote, and a poll upon exiting the polling station indicated that the leading candidate would only get around 16% of the support. The poll included left-wing conservative educator Pedro Castillo as a front-runner, followed by right-wing economist Hernando de Soto and Keiko Fujimori, opposition leader and daughter of polarized ex-president Alberto Fujimori.
The country is among the hardest hit by COVID-19, with more than 1.6 million cases and more than 54,600 deaths as of Sunday.
Associated Press writer Regina Garcia Cano wrote this story from Mexico City and Associated Press writer Gonzalo Solano is from Quito.
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