Ecuador: leftist trails as election goes to second round

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

See our last post on Ecuador. See also our October feature story on Ecuador’s elections.

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    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 22:

    With 94.5% of the ballots counted from Ecuador’s Oct. 15 presidential race, rightwing banana tycoon Alvaro Noboa was ahead with 26.6% of the vote, followed by left-nationalist presidential candidate Rafael Correa with 22.9%. On Oct. 18, the Democratic Left (ID) party, whose candidate Leon Roldos came in fourth with 15.27%, announced it would support Correa in the second round. Correa hopes to win the Nov. 26 runoff and crack down on what he calls Ecuador’s corrupt elite. (Reuters, Oct. 18, 19; Prensa Latina, Oct. 18)

    Gilmar Gutierrez of Patriotic Society came in third with 17.26%, followed by Social Christian candidate Cynthia Viteri with 9.62% and Luis Macas of the Pachakutik Indigenous Movement with 2.23%. Several other candidates got less than 2%. (PL, Oct. 18) Social movements had been campaigning for a “null” vote for legislators, as a protest against the current Congress. (Altercom, Sept. 26, 28)