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Ecuador elects president in close duel between left and right

Ecuador elects its next president this Sunday in the second round between Andrés Arauz and Guillermo Lasso, in a contest that is anticipated very tight between socialism and the conservative right to govern a divided country, in economic crisis and plagued by the pandemic.

Although the ban on the publication of polls is in force, several firms foresee a head to head due to the upturn of the right-wing Lasso after the first shift on February 7, when he reached 19.74% of the votes against 32.72% for Arauz. The undecided are around 15%.

Lasso and Arauz also star in a clash of generations and styles that will be decided with the compulsory vote of 13.1 million Ecuadorians, who will start going to the polls from 0700 local time (1200 GMT). The day will end ten hours later.

At 36, Arauz, an economist trained in the United States, could become the youngest president in Latin America, while Lasso, a 65-year-old former banker, may be playing his last chance after losing the elections in 2013 and 2017.

Arauz is recognized for being the dolphin of former president Rafael Correa (2007-2017), a gravitating figure in this contest, despite the fact that he has been out of Ecuador for four years and carries a conviction for corruption that he calls political persecution.

On the other hand, Lasso embodies the anti-Correism that brings together the traditional right, businessmen, some media and not a few disenchanted with the socialism of the 21st century that the former head of state proclaimed.

Whoever wins will take the reins of this country of 17.4 million inhabitants as of May 24, replacing the unpopular Lenín Moreno, who leaves office harassed by criticism of the handling of the pandemic and its economic effect.

In 2020, the dollarized economy fell by 7.8% and public debt (internal and external) increased to reach 63% of GDP.

– The indigenous vote –

Arauz promises a “progressive” government to solve the economic crisis that aggravated the pandemic, with measures such as the renegotiation of an austerity agreement with the IMF for 6.5 billion dollars, while Lasso is forceful: he will promote free trade.

“This social division, and which the campaign has exalted, has meant that the vote of rejection of Correa effectively ends up folding Lasso,” says Pablo Romero, an analyst at the Salesian University.

The indigenous people, who were at the gates of the ballot with their candidate Yaku Pérez, a leftist anti-Corrista who alleged an alleged theft of elections, appear as a determining force this Sunday.

However, his vote was divided on the way to the second round between the null, which Pérez encourages, and the support for Arauz and to a lesser extent for Lasso.

Neither of the two finalists will have a legislative majority and will have to negotiate with Pachakutik, the indigenous party that won the second vote for the Assembly behind Unión por la Esperanza (Unes), the Arauz movement. Creando Oportunidades (I think), Lasso’s strength, will have a minimal representation.

“There is an economic, health and governance crisis at the moment (…) Anyone who wins has a completely divided picture, very diffuse,” says Wendy Reyes, political consultant and professor at the University of Washington.

– Correísmo at stake –

Correísmo, which broadened and strengthened the State and promoted the modernization of Ecuador although, according to its critics, at the cost of an authoritarian style and dotted with corruption, it seems to have lost its advantage in the first round.

“Lasso’s campaign growth rate had a difference of 2 to 1 compared to Arauz’s campaign growth,” Blasco Peñaherrera, head of the Market pollster, told AFP.

Other analysts also warn about the impact that a null vote could have.

“If there is a very high percentage, it would legitimize protests in the future and affect the governability of the next president,” according to Oswaldo Moreno, from Independent Political Consultants.

Very active in the first lap, Correa practically vanished in the final stretch, in an attempt to protect his pupil from the forces that repel him.

The ex-president has been in Belgium since 2017. Moreno, his ex-vice, succeeded him in office, supported by the popularity of the socialist government, but he quickly distanced himself from Correa and precipitated the fracture of the dominant left.

Correa was condemned by the justice in absentia, but from his self-exile he marked the candidacy of his old and unknown economic adviser.

“Correísmo not only plays its continuity, it is not going to disappear [si pierde]Rather, the judicial processes will continue and that will mean that it will have fewer and fewer spaces, “said Romero, from the Salesian University.

vel-bur / sp / rsr

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