Fabián Pozo Neira es abogado, Cuenca- Ecuador
The presidential elections of Ecuador held last February 17, 2017, open a new stage for the Ecuadorian democracy, and they will maybe mark a turning point for the region, after the end of ten years of governing of the socialist Rafael Correa.
With 99.84% of the votes accounted for, the officialism headed by Lenín Moreno obtained 39.35% of the votes, while the opponent Guillermo Lasso obtained 28.10%. Since the legally required majority wasn’t achieved (half plus one or a voting of 40% plus 10% of difference over the second one), a definitive ballot between Moreno and Lasso will be performed next April 2.
The victory of the ruling-party candidate has the flavor of defeat, since he hasn’t obtained any victories in the first round and Rafael Correa previously did in 2008 and 2013, destroying the triumphalistic aura of ten elections without practically losing any.
On the other hand, is expected that the other opposition forces – who were divided before – consolidate around Guillermo Lasso, adding up to an additional 29.3% which was divided in the first round among the Social Christian, Cynthia Viteri (16.31%), the Social Democrat, Paco Moncayo (6.71%), the conservative populist, Dalo Bucaram (16.31%), and other three candidates who got remaining 4.7%
Before this scenario, the growth rate of Moreno is low, having to focus on the indecisive and Moncayo’s social democrat voters. On his part, Lasso would not have difficulties in recruiting good share of the Social Christian voters and Bucaramism, both of them already announced their support to Lasso for the ballot. Thus, differently from the first round, even a growth of the invalid and blank votes could favor Lasso, because it is Moreno who will depend more on the indecisive of the first round to increase.
Regarding the legislative power, correism will keep the parliamentary majority with around 74 legislators out of 137, but it will have lost the qualified majority of two-thirds which had since 2013. For Lasso, in case of being elected, it will be certainly hard for him to maneuver with a Parliament against, but it will count on the broad powers which the Correa Government granted the Executive as of the issuing of a new Constitution in 2008, of hyper-presidential trend.
The April election will be held between two postures opposite in practically everything. The model of country which Lasso proposes is based on the openness to trade and investment, he has proposed to repeal more than fourteen taxes, a significant reduction of the sumptuary State expending, as well as defending the dollarization and the independence of the press. On his part, Moreno suggests deepening the socialist trend by increasing the public expenditure even more, greater economic and capital outflow regulation, a possible future “regional coin” and a greater regulation of the mass media.
On the international arena, the Ecuadorian elections could have significant regional incidence, given Lasso’s intention to incorporate Ecuador to the Pacific Alliance, formed by Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, prone to free trade, while he would also abandon integration initiatives such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), politically favorable to chavism, leaving the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro with few allies in the region.