Leftist Lenín Moreno Achieves Inconclusive Win In First Round Of Ecuador’s Presidential Election

Ecuador’s presidential elections will proceed to a one-on-one final round on 2 April after Lenín Moreno, leftist successor candidate to President Rafael Correa, fell agonizingly short of victory in the first-round on 19 February. From a field of eight candidates, Moreno won 39.33% of the vote, just below the 40 percent required for outright victory.

The strong result means that the ruling leftist party Alianza País secured a majority in the country’s unicameral parliament. The party is expected to control 75 of the national assembly’s 137 seats, a decrease from the two-thirds majority won in 2013.

The Ecuadorian electorate also approved a law prohibiting state employees from holding any assets in tax havens.

Moreno now faces a six-week campaign against Guillermo Lasso, a cartoonish right-wing leader and executive director of Ecuador’s third-largest bank, who promised to “create jobs” and “defend the family” by eliminating taxes. Lasso created his own party (CREO) in order to run for president in 2013 against Correa, to whom he lost in the first round by 35 percentage points.

Having made it to the second round this time, Lasso will have the open support of Cynthia Viteri, the candidate of Ecuador’s historic conservative[1] party, the Christian Social Party (PSC). Between Lasso’s 28% of the vote and Viteri’s 16%, the right are in a strong position to challenge Moreno for the presidency in April.

Moreno has campaigned on a relatively placid platform of continuity. This is unsurprising, as during Correa’s decade in power poverty was reduced by one-third and the economy consistently grew at above the regional average, while inequality decreased and access to healthcare and all levels of education was made free.

However, since 2014 and the oil price collapse, a commodity on which royalties of 80% were introduced under the Correa government, the country has fallen on harder times. The coincidence of this economic contraction with the retirement of the charismatic campaigner Correa has created an appetite for political change among some Ecuadorians. One can only hope they don’t hand the presidency to a shameless oligarch in the process.

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[1] For those who were wondering: yes, the use of “historic” and “conservative” in the same sentence does imply PSC support for dictatorship and extra-judicial killings, specifically in the 1984–88 period.

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christiantym@gmail.com'
Christian is a social anthropologist, who, while working on his honors degree, detailed practices of biopiracy: pharmaceutical firms exploiting the medicinal knowledge of indigenous tribes to claim profitable drug “innovations.” Christian moved to Ecuador in 2013 and spent months at a time among the Shuar indigenous people, the famous “headshrinkers” of Ecuador’s remote southeast, exploring the Shuar’s use of traditional medicine including exploring the Shuar’s use of psychedelics and views on the mind-body connection

Tym is also investigating the political aspects of indigenous organizations, the Shuar being one of the first tribes of the Amazon to federate, and continues to conduct research in this regard in Quito. While in the capital, Tym has become deeply immersed in the political situation. As his access to journalism has increased, Tym has been monitoring the Spanish-speaking South American press and its vociferous treatment of many ruling parties. He has travelled throughout the continent to meet with members of various leftist-indigenous groups.

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