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Ecuador’s transformational election: A new era beckons

Published on August 21, 2023

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In a momentous turn of events, Ecuadorians have spoken, setting the stage for a historic run-off in their presidential election. On Sunday, August 20, over 13.4 million citizens exercised their democratic right, casting their votes to determine the future leadership of their nation. The election results reflect a nation grappling with multiple challenges, from escalating violence to economic uncertainties and environmental concerns.

The election outcome—with 93% of the votes counted— was nothing short of surprising, with Luisa González and Daniel Noboa emerging as the two contenders heading into the second round on October 15th.

González, a figure backed by the Revolución Ciudadana party and deeply rooted in the socialist legacy of former President Rafael Correa, secured the top position in the preliminary results with 33.33% of the votes.

In an unexpected twist, Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old entrepreneur hailing from one of the wealthiest families in Latin America, secured second place with 23.66% of the votes. His rapid ascent from single-digit poll rankings showcased the growing influence of younger voters and their desire for fresh faces and bold solutions.

Violence and economy primary factors in election

Ecuador’s journey to this transformative moment has been marked by a series of challenges that have deeply affected its citizens. Violent crime, linked to drug gangs and escalating cartel activity, has sent shockwaves through the nation. Against this backdrop, the election focused on issues of security and safety, highlighting the urgent need for a leader who can restore peace and tranquility to the once-tranquil country.

The economy, too, has remained a central concern for Ecuadorians. The rise of unemployment, coupled with the erosion of economic stability, has driven many to seek leadership that can provide innovative solutions for growth, job creation, and international trade agreements. Daniel Noboa’s unexpected popularity can be attributed, in part, to his promises of economic revitalization, lower taxes, and job opportunities for the struggling youth population.

As the election results were announced, one could not ignore the historic nature of this impending run-off. Luisa González has the chance to become Ecuador’s first-ever female president, signaling a significant stride towards gender equality in the nation’s leadership. On the other hand, if Daniel Noboa emerges victorious, he will not only become the youngest president in Ecuador’s history but also a symbol of the country’s aspirations for renewal and change.

However, the path to this election has not been without its share of turmoil and tragedy. The shocking assassination of Fernando Villavicencio, an anti-corruption candidate, earlier this month cast a somber shadow over the election process. Villavicencio’s campaign, which aimed to tackle deep-rooted corruption in the nation, was tragically cut short. His assassination underscored the perilous environment in which this election unfolded, further highlighting the pressing need for a leader who can address the rising crime and insecurity.

The run-off candidates

Luisa González, partnering with vice president candidate Andrés Arauz, presents a comprehensive proposal addressing justice, peace, economics, anti-corruption, democracy, gender equality, environmental concerns, digital transformation, and international relations. González advocates for auditing pandemic-induced public debt, enhancing liquidity management, and restoring health sector positions.

Her security-focused approach involves reorganizing security ministries, instituting citizen-centered security models, and rehabilitating individuals who have completed their prison terms. González emphasizes enhancing investigative capacities, reducing impunity, and combating cybercrime. She also aims to combat corruption by strengthening the judiciary’s independence and improving labor rights, fair wages, and work-life balance.

On healthcare, her plan entails expanding budgets, improving infrastructure, and integrating private health units into a unified system.

González envisions transitioning to a post-oil economy, emphasizing citizen oversight of mining concessions, promoting energy-efficient technologies, and implementing an electric train system.

Daniel Noboa Azín, a 35-year-old candidate from Guayaquil, Ecuador, is representing the ADN electoral coalition and has advanced to the second round of elections. As the son of businessman Álvaro Noboa Pontón and Dr. Anabella Azín, he brings a unique blend of business and political experience. With ties to the banana industry and prior service as an assembly member, Noboa Azín’s government plan is categorized into social, economic, institutional/productive, and environmental initiatives.

He aims to reform the judicial and police systems, implement socioeconomic development programs to combat poverty, establish a national cybersecurity strategy, address the prison crisis, and enact reforms to the criminal code. Notably, he gained support in Santa Elena province in the 2021 elections and led the Economic Development Commission in the Assembly, focusing on economic and investment legislation.

The environment won

Beyond the presidential race, Ecuadorians have also made their voices heard on crucial environmental matters. The decision to halt oil exploration in Yasuní National Park, renowned for its biodiversity and home to Indigenous communities, garnered significant support. This rejection of oil operations reflects a growing awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and seeking alternative pathways to economic development.

In addition, Ecuadorians had their say on the Chocó Andino mining issue, voting to halt new mining activities in this ecologically sensitive region.

The nation’s choices in these consultations reflect a collective call for a sustainable and balanced approach to development that respects the environment and indigenous communities.

The Assembly shift

But the transformational nature of this election doesn’t stop at the presidential level. Ecuadorians also cast their votes for the National Assembly, a body that plays a crucial role in shaping the country’s legislative agenda and policies. The preliminary results indicate a significant shift in the composition of the Assembly, reflecting the changing preferences and priorities of the electorate.

The results show the Revolución Ciudadana party, aligned with Correa’s legacy, securing 39.4% of the seats. This solidifies their position as a strong political force, suggesting that a substantial portion of the population seeks a continuation of the policies and ideals of the past. Meanwhile, the Construye movement, led by Villavicencio/Zurity, has garnered 20.66% of the seats. This shows that anti-corruption sentiment and the call for a clean and transparent government resonate deeply with Ecuadorians.

The Democratic Action party, represented by Daniel Noboa, has secured 14.67% of the seats, underscoring the broader appeal of his vision for economic revitalization and job creation. The Social Christian party, represented by Jan Topic, which gained prominence for his security stance, won 11.83% of the seats, signaling a growing demand for more action to stop the insecurity that has plagued the country for two years.

These shifts in the National Assembly reflect the evolving priorities of Ecuadorian society. The electorate’s decision to diversify the political representation in the Assembly sends a powerful message that the citizens demand a multi-faceted approach to governance, addressing not only economic and social issues but also environmental and anti-corruption concerns.

As Ecuador prepares for its second-round election, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The nation’s fate hangs in the balance, with two vastly different candidates offering divergent visions for the future. Whether Ecuadorians choose to embrace a candidate with deep ties to the past or opt for a young entrepreneur promising change, their decision will shape the course of the nation for years to come.

Ecuador’s transformational election is not just about the individuals vying for power, but about the collective will of a nation seeking a brighter future. With the run-off approaching, the eyes of the world are on Ecuador, as its citizens prepare to make a choice that will determine the trajectory of their beloved country.


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