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ECUADOR
Lenín Moreno elected president by a slim margin
Latinamerica Press
4/10/2017
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Opposition candidate Guillermo Lasso challenges election results that give the victory to the ruling party candidate.

Lenín Moreno, the candidate for the ruling Alianza PAÍS party, secured a win against rival Guillermo Lasso of the Creando  Oportunidades (CREO) movement in the second round of elections held on Apr. 2, by a difference of  230,000 votes. According to official results, Moreno received 51.1% of the valid votes, while Lasso received 48.8%.

The results surprised many as exit polls conducted by polling firm CEDATOS gave the victory to Lasso with 53% of the vote to 47% for Moreno, while polling firm Perfiles de Opinión put Moreno at 52.2% and Lasso at 47.8% of the vote.

Soon after polling centers closed Lasso claimed his victory saying that “it is intended to declare illegitimately winner to whom didn’t win the election.” Moreno also claimed to be the electoral winner, and promised “to work for the country from now on.”

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) lamented “the political use made from the exit polls that were published minutes before the polls closed. The significant difference between the results of the different polls generated uncertainty among the electorate and led the candidates to declare themselves winners before the official results were published by the National Electorate Council [CNE].”

Although the OAS and other observation missions endorsed the electoral results, Lasso qualified the electoral process as fraudulent and demanded a vote recount. The opposition candidate assured through social media that there is plenty of proof of irregularities and called on followers to remain peacefully outside the CNE offices “and demand transparency.”

“We will exhaust all legal and political channels in Ecuador and abroad, to respect the will of the people who called for a change,” Lasso said on Twitter. “The fight continues my friends. Let’s not lower our arms by even for a second.”

Economy in recession
Moreno, 64, will be sworn in on May 24 and assume the presidency until 2021. He was vice-president of the country from 2007 to 2013.

He was declared the winner of the first round of elections held on Feb. 19 with 39.3% of the vote, but he had to dispute a second round against Lasso, who received 28%, at not reaching the required 40% to be declared the winner in the first round.

In the election for the National Assembly, Alianza PAIS got 74 of the 137 seats, something that will allow them to control the Legislature and, thus, approve, amend or repeal organic or ordinary laws, allowing Moreno to govern comfortably.

However, he will have to face an economic recession caused by the falling oil prices, the main export product, and the strengthening of the dollar (the country was dollarized in 2000 and has no monetary policy).

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Ecuador experienced a negative economic growth in 2016 of -2.5% and the forecast for 2017 will be 0.2%.

Moreno will inherit 10 years of government led by Rafael Correa, who showed authoritarian leanings, and a permanent increase of the foreign debt, something that the next government should start paying, meaning a reduction in state investment and laying-off of public-sector workers.

A point that remains unclear is his relationship with indigenous peoples, harshly repressed by Correa for protesting against the concessions of their territories to foreign mining and oil enterprises. Moreno has in his favor a more negotiating character; he has signed commitments with various social sectors and has the indigenous agenda in his governing plan, but has not mentioned his compromise to respect indigenous rights.

Also, he has not explained if he will maintain Correa’s practice to criminalize protests. The Ecuadorean government confronted the social organizations that opposed its political agenda by prosecuting their leaders to jail them, or by keeping  trials open indefinitely in order to silence them. Similarly, the government has tried to shut down organizations by means of a decree that threatens their stability and limits their activities. —Latinamerica Press.


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