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After ten years of being Rafael Correa the President of Ecuador, it will be difficult to exercise the power like him, in a way which could well be defined as omnipresent. In the decade of 2007-2017, the current president became involved in almost every issue which generated interest in the country, whether political, social, economic, religious or sports, personally or through Twitter, his favourite social network. Correa created a very personalist movement, instead of generating a socialist party with an ideological content, and its policy has been social dismantling: combating the trade unionism by denying them any social representation, atomizing the indigenous movement and crashing over many groups, such as healthcare and Armed Forces.
For Correa’ critics, those representatives of the old politics, bankers of the “long neoliberal night“, journalists “ink’ hitmen“, as Correa uses to denominate them, or those who were disenchanted during the way, his omnipresence became Omnipotence. After too much accumulated power, the Ecuadoreans from the coast or from the Sierra, from Quito or Guayaquil, are just right now pro-Correa or against-Correa, or what is the same, fully polarized.
Neither the presidential candidate, Lenin Moreno nor his great rival, Guillermo Lasso have obtained for time being, the necessary votes to be proclaimed president without resorting to the ballotage. In a count which continues maintaining the Ecuadorians’ excitement as well as their breath, Correa’s candidate Moreno has failed to overcome the barrier of 40% of votes needed to win in the first round. At the moment, stands at the doors of the Government Palace with a 39.11% support. Lasso, leader of CREO-SUMA with 28.31% of votes, still hopes to achieve his goal, to reach the second round on April 2nd.
For the very last ten years, the Ecuadorians had grown living the elections without great uncertainties. The name of the person sitting in the presidential chair was a sure bet. But after a decade with Rafael Correa, the question is not only about who will be the next president, but how the economic crisis in the country will be solved. The Ecuadorians had to decide amongst the change, or four more years of revolution.
Guillermo Lasso from ‘Alianza PAIS‘ is the opposition candidate. He lost already the 2013 election against Rafael Correa. He promises that his presidency will be the required change which Ecuador is needing, to end with the revolutionary project of Correa: belonging to the ALBA Alliance, founded by Hugo Chavez and called ‘Socialism of the 21st Century.’ Lasso is a self-made man. At age of 15, he got his first job to contribute to the family’ economy. There he began his career in the banking sector. Without having any university degree, he became the CEO of the Bank of Guayaquil, of which he is still one of its main shareholders.
Lenin Moreno, the official candidate of ‘Alliance PAIS’ represents the continuity of Correa’ s legacy, although he says he will do it with his own style. Moreno refuses the confrontation and bets on dialogue to make politics in a more dignified way. Teacher and son of teachers, he left the classrooms to create his company of tourist promotion. In 1998, a robbery changed his life: A shot at the exit of a bakery left him with no mobility in his legs. From his wheelchair, he decided to become a professional Coach using humour as a tool, a vision which he has developed in eight books. His leap into public life was as Correa’ vice president between 2007 and 2013. The visibility of disabilities and the social policies in Ecuador took the UN to appoint him as the Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Disability and Accessibility.
Moreno, the official candidate nominated by Correa, came to the election as the best positioned. Right now it seems like the whole election intrigue is not about who will be the winner anymore, but whether there will be a second round. Some are predicting that Correa will continue to rule in the shadows if his candidate wins, while others speculate that he will return stronger in some years if the opposition finally wins. There are people who fear that in his absence, all the social achievements during his presidency will disappear, but also those who only wish him a sad and lonely end. But no one after his 10-year presidency has been indifferent to Rafael Correa’s fate, which is his omnipresence’ legacy.
While Ecuador still has no president, it already has its National Assembly. And the clear majority which Correa’s party enjoyed has been drastically reduced in these election: Alianza PAIS (AP), which had 100 of the 137 chamber seats, has fallen to about 67 seats, compared to 64 for the opposition, according to the ‘Citizen Participation’ platform. The distortion of the circumscriptions would explain that AP has half of the seats, while in the votes counting, the official Lenin Moreno provisionally obtained a 39.1%, compared to 51.4% percent got for the three main opposition candidates.
The slowness counting and offering the results by the National Electoral Council, was interpreted as an attempt to wait for Moreno seizing the 40% required to avoid a second round. Whether he loses the presidency, AP will no longer have the clear majority which had enjoyed since 2009, and allowed Rafael Correa to effectively control the judiciary and the electoral administration, as well as the dismantling of any independent media, according to the Bolivarian model of the so-called ‘Socialism of the 21st Century’. The ‘Socialism of the 21st Century’ already lost two of its allies with the change of government in Argentina and the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. It may lose a third party.
In any case, the Ecuadorian people are in the streets defending their votes. The last news about Ecuador is that National Electoral Council is removing all the volunteers’ credentials of the opposition parties, so that of they cannot witness the latest piece of the voting count. I might be wrong, but something starts to stink badly.