As of the evening of Oct. 15, early returns from Ecuador’s general election that day showed banana magnate Alvaro Noboa leading leftist economist Rafael Correa by about 27% to 22% in the voting for president, virtually guaranteeing that the race would go to a second round. (Radio France Internationale, Oct. 15) A poll taken by the private Cedatos-Gallup company Oct. 11-13 had shown Correa leading the list of 13 candidates with 31.1% of the vote, followed by Noboa with 25.2% and the socialist Leon Roldos with 19.1%. Based on the poll, which had a margin of error of three percentage points, the company predicted that Correa and Noboa would face each other in a second round on Nov. 26. To win in the first round a candidate would need to get at least 40% of the vote.
The winner takes office on Jan. 15, succeeding acting president Alfredo Palacio, who became president in April 2005 when then- president Lucio Gutierrez was removed from office. Legislative, provincial and municipal offices were also at stake in the Oct. 15 elections; Ecuador has about 9.2 million eligible voters.
On Oct. 14 the Correa campaign asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to withdraw the head of its 110-member election observation team, former Argentine foreign minister Rafael Bielsa, charging that he had told journalists that he personally favored an unnamed opponent of Correa. The Permanent Assembly of Human Rights said it too would ask for Bielsa’s withdrawal. Bielsa insisted that he was impartial and denied claims that he had called Correa, who is friendly with leftist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, a “populist of the left.” Meanwhile, Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) president Xavier Cazar dismissed charges that fraud might occur on election day. (Reuters, Oct. 14; La Jornada, Oct. 15)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 15