Will it be the businessman Daniel Noboa or the lawyer Luisa Gonzalez?
Ecuador is experiencing unprecedented levels of insecurity and violence. Ecuadorians in Nicaragua will not be able to vote in the runoff.
HAVANA TIMES – More than 13.4 million Ecuadorians are called to the polls this Sunday, October 15, to choose between the young businessman Daniel Noboa, and the lawyer Luisa González, who will complete the term of President Guillermo Lasso, until May 2025.
The polls open at 07:00 local time (12:00 GMT) and will last ten hours, until 17:00 (22:00 GMT). The first results are expected to begin to be known about 90 minutes after the polls close.
The voting process began last Thursday with the vote of prisoners without a final sentence and continued on Friday with the vote at home for those over 50 years of age or people with disabilities of more than 75%.
Ecuadorians are going to the polls in a special election after Lasso dissolved the National Assembly, with an opposition majority, in May when it was preparing to vote on a motion of censure him for alleged embezzlement), which he denies. He then asked for elections to be called, to end early his period in office.
Noboa and Gonzalez were the top two vote getters on August 20 by beating six other candidates and setting the stage for today’s runoff election. Among the defeated candidates were former vice president Otto Sonnenholzner, and former legionnaire and security specialist businessman Jan Topic.
Also eliminated were the former prefect of the province of Azuay, Yaku Pérez, the businessman Xavier Hervas, the independent lawyer Bolívar Armijos and the journalist Christian Zurita, who replaced Fernando Villavicencio on the ballot, after he was murdered on August 9 when leaving a political rally in Quito.
Elections in Ecuador and citizen insecurity
Dressed in bulletproof vests and protected by law enforcement, Noboa, from the National Democratic Action alliance (ADN) and Gonzalez from the Citizen Revolution movement, led by former president Rafael Correa (president from 2007-2017), developed a runoff campaign characterized by meetings with unions, social groups and delegates of international organizations.
There were few mass gatherings compared to electoral campaigns in past years in Ecuador.
In their campaigning, both candidates focused on providing information, especially about their plans to provide citizen safety, one of today’s main concerns of Ecuadorians.
Ecuador is experiencing unprecedented levels of insecurity and violence, attributed by the authorities to organized crime and drug trafficking. The homicide rate has gone from 5.8 to 25.32 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2022 in just five years, the highest figure of its history.
Murders at the hands of hitmen, assaults, extortions, kidnappings, and robberies are among the crimes heard daily in Ecuador.
The country was known as a haven of peace in the region, but has now become a key point for drug trafficking mafias, via its ports, transporting large quantities of cocaine produced in its neighboring countries, Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest producers, to Europe and North America.
Economic situation in an indebted country
Added to the insecurity crisis, is the difficult economic situation that the next president will have to face when receiving a country in debt, with serious problems in the health, educational and agricultural sectors, among others, which could worsen due to effects of the climate phenomenon of El Niño, which is expected to arrive at the end of the year.
Furthermore, the next head of state will have to govern with the foreseeable reduction in tax revenue as a result of the prohibition on exploiting an important oil well in the Amazon.
This is because on August 20, Ecuadorians voted in a plebiscite to cease the exploitation of Block 43-ITT, one of the deposits located within the Yasuni National Park, a biodiverse enclave located in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
That block has an average production of 58,000 barrels of oil per day, which represents around 11% of Ecuador’s total oil production, which is around 480,000 barrels.
According to official data, this gave the State benefits of 1.2 billion dollars, but environmentalists believe that the income is much lower and that it can be compensated with a wealth tax.
Ecuadorians in Nicaragua will not be able to vote in the runoff
Ecuadorians residing in Russia, Belarus, Israel and Nicaragua will be left without voting in the runoff presidential elections as they encounter difficulties and impediments to voting there in person. This was announced on October 13 by the plenary session of the National Electoral Council (CNE).
In Israel, where there are 293 Ecuadorians registered, the vote will not be held to preserve the safety of the voters and the diplomatic staff of the embassy amid the conflict unleashed in that country as a result of the terrorist attack by the Islamist group Hamas last Saturday.
Both in Russia, which has 411 Ecuadorians registered and Belarus, where there are 34, the electoral material will not arrive on time due to restrictions on flight connections that go to these two countries.
Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, which has a census of 87 Ecuadorians, there will also be no vote as Ecuador does not have an embassy in the country.
The CNE chose to carry out second round voting abroad in person after the problems experienced with the computer platform for telematic voting during the first round, which forced the elections for the National Assembly (Parliament) to be repeated.
Thus, Ecuadorians abroad will go this Sunday to vote in person for the second round of the presidential elections except in Russia, Belarus, Israel and Nicaragua, and they will do so again electronically to elect the six representatives of the Assembly who correspond to the external constituencies.
The largest numbers of the approximately 1.5 million Ecuadorians living abroad are found in the United States, Spain, Italy, Chile, and Canada.