Ecuador: voters expected at the polls for the second round of the presidential election

Luisa Gonzalez (socialist) and Daniel Noboa (liberal) will face off on Sunday in a close duel for the second round of the presidential election in Ecuador, a country plagued by violence and drug trafficking. Nearly 100,000 soldiers and police will be deployed to ensure the security of the election.

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Nearly 13.4 million voters are expected to go to the polls on Sunday, October 15, in Ecuador for the second round of the presidential election which pits a socialist lawyer, runner-up to former President Rafael Correa, and a liberal candidate.

This face-to-face will result either in the election of the first woman at the head of the South American country, Luisa Gonzalez, or that of the youngest president in its modern history, Daniel Noboa, son of an extremely wealthy businessman, banana tycoon.

Voting will begin at 7 a.m. local time (12 p.m. GMT) and end at 5 p.m. (10 p.m. GMT) in 4,390 polling stations. The results are expected in the evening.

Nearly 100,000 military and police officers in total will be deployed throughout the country to ensure the security of the vote, the pre-first round of August 20 having been marked by the assassination of one of the main candidates, a former journalist wearing a strong anti-corruption speech.

A climate of violence

The two candidates, both wearing bulletproof vests at each of their public appearances, will each vote in their stronghold: Daniel Noboa in Santa Elena (southwest), and Luisa Gonzalez in Canuto (west).

“Let the candidates conform to what they say, so that Ecuador moves forward and not backwards. And so that the people are freed from delinquency, insecurity and unemployment,” pleaded the day before the election Jaime Morales, 68-year-old retiree.

“There is no security, businesses are closing (because of extortion), unemployment is everywhere,” alarms another voter, Fernando Llerena, also retired. “We expect a lot from the next president (…) and that he will get us out of the hole where previous governments left us,” adds Jhimy Cabrera.

The last days of the campaign saw an avalanche of promises from the two candidates: “A new Ecuador”, a “firm hand” to “save the country”, the “end of delinquency”, “thousands of jobs “.

But the newly elected will only have a short time to keep these amazing promises: he or she will govern until the beginning of 2025, the end of the mandate of outgoing President Guillermo Lasso who had called early elections to avoid his dismissal against a backdrop of accusations of corruption.

The new leader will inherit a country plunged into an unprecedented wave of violence, which suffers from endemic corruption and weakened institutions.

Read alsoAssassination of Fernando Villavicencio: in Latin America, a history of political violence

Once considered an island of peace in Latin America, the country of 18 million inhabitants, located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest producers of cocaine, has been overtaken by an unprecedented wave of violence linked to crime. organized and drug trafficking. According to the Ecuadorian Organized Crime Monitor (OECS), at least 3,600 people have been murdered since the start of the year, while the homicide rate has doubled and continues to skyrocket.

A close duel

Each candidate has his magic formula: Daniel Noboa wants to create a large intelligence agency, bringing together the prison administration (SNAI), while Luisa Gonzalez wants more social programs to prevent delinquency. Both agree on the militarization of prisons, ports and borders.

On the economy, Luisa Gonzalez intends to promote a more “solidarity” State, based on “equal opportunities” and “for the good of all”. His opponent defends a more liberal and entrepreneurial policy.

The shadow of ex-president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) hangs over the candidacy of Luisa Gonzalez, who indicated that she would make him her advisor. The former head of state, in exile because he was convicted in his country for corruption, has in recent days been in charge of Luisa Gonzalez’s campaign headquarters, based in Mexico.

At the end of a rather sluggish campaign centered on social networks, the duel promises to be very close, according to the latest polls. Daniel Noboa seems to have given up his lead after the only debate with his rival at the beginning of October.

The duel takes place against a backdrop of polarization between a minority Corréist bloc and, on the other hand, a very fragmented political spectrum.

No force or party has an absolute majority in the National Assembly, which was renewed at the same time as the first round of the presidential election, which should complicate the adoption of new texts. Luisa Gonzalez’s party, “Citizen’s Revolution”, is the leading force there, with 48 seats out of 137. Daniel Noboa has thirteen deputies.

With AFP

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