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After the primary elections in Ecuador on February 7, the presidential race was reduced to two candidates, as it is typical of any run-off election: Andres Arauz with 32.72 %, candidate of the Castro-Chavista left, the Sao Paulo Forum and the Puebla Group, and Guillermo Lasso with 19.74% for the Creo Movement and the Social Christian Party, a candidacy of a liberal-conservative character given Lasso’s membership in Opus Dei (Work of God).
It cannot be ignored that Yaku Perez seriously disputed that he won second place for the second round, although he ended up in third place by a small margin, with 19.38 % plus Xavier Hervás with 15.38 %. However, what is significant here is that both Perez and Hervas were also left-wing candidates, yet they were anti-correistas. Pérez claimed fraud and did not give his support to Lasso, just as he did in the past presidential elections of 2017, in where they got united to fight against correismo, at the time represented by the current president Lenín Moreno.
Given the similar voting from leftist candidates, Pérez and Hervás, I assumed that Andrés Arauz would double Guillermo Lasso in the second round since the reading I had was that Arauz would add for his cause all the leftist electorate. Fortunately, I was wrong in my reading and the opposite ended up happening, the majority of the electorate of Perez and Hervás turned to the candidacy of Lasso. He ended up obtaining a solid victory of 52.36 % over Arauz’s 47.64 %, according to data from the National Electoral Council of Ecuador.
Correa’s candidate defeated
Evidently, an important sector of the Ecuadorian electorate supports leftist proposals, but the anti-Correista sentiment, undoubtedly, has been greater and became the fundamental factor when Ecuadorians decided their candidate at the time of voting in this second round.
Another factor that cannot be lost sight of is that during the last month of the campaign, Correa’s influence over the young candidate forced Arauz to become more radical in his discourse and rather than offering management alternatives for the voters, he referred to bill-passing, confrontation with the “traitors” and loaded his discourse with ideological rhetoric, which in the end disconnected him with the electorate.
What was his self-liquidation in the midst of his neo-communist discourse was that he put forward the thesis of eliminating the dollarization of the Ecuadorian economy, a monetary system implemented twenty years ago in the country during the brief and controversial presidency of Jamil Mahuad.
On Lasso’s side, he had the great intelligence not to get involved in the ideological fight offered by Arauz, on the contrary, he guaranteed the maintenance of the dollarized economy and advanced his electoral proposals within a broad governmental agenda framework. In other words, he did not limit himself to the typical liberal-conservative proposals such as the defense of private property and the family but incorporated the issue of women’s equality in terms of opportunities and salary, protection for single mothers, as well as embraced the cause of the “LBGT+”.
Now, the significance of this victory is that it is the first time since 2006 that the castro-chavista correismo has been defeated electorally. Therefore, it is certainly a historical turning point in Ecuador. However, Lasso has an enormous challenge: to govern with a parliament controlled by leftist parties such as Union for Hope, Pachakutik (of Yaku Perez), and the Democratic Left party.
It is worth underlining that Guillermo Lasso will carry the enormous weight that obliges him to make excellent governmental management for the good of Ecuador, of his own government, and to definitively bury the nefarious castro-chavista correismo that did so much damage to the Ecuadorian democracy. This way, Lasso’s goal would be to avoid a repetition of the unfortunate experience of Argentina with Macri. All that remains today is to congratulate Lasso and wish him the best of success because history will tell the rest.
Nahem Reyes is a PhD in history from the Andrés Bello Catholix University and associate member of the American Studies Center of the Central University of Venezuela. // Nahem Reyes es doctor en Historia de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello y miembro asociado del Centro de Estudios de América de la Universidad Central de Venezuela.