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Ecuador votes this Sunday on the possible return of ‘correism’ to power in a context marked by violence

Luisa González and Daniel Noboa aspire to succeed Guillermo Lasso in the Presidency after the electoral advance

Ecuadorians are called again this Sunday to the polls for the second round of the presidential elections, in which the candidate of the Citizen Revolution Movement, Luisa González, ally of former president Rafael Correa, aspires to assert her status as favorite against the businessman Daniel Noboa, who has reached this final round of elections against the odds.

In the first round on August 20, González achieved more than 33 percent of the votes, demonstrating to what extent ‘Correismo’ continues to be a popular current in an Ecuador from which Correa himself, who currently lives in Belgium and has several pending court cases in the South American country.

‘Correismo’ has emphasized that the trials opened for corruption against former leaders are part of a political persecution and has established itself as a guarantor of social development. In the last televised debate, González stated that she wants to combat insecurity by improving aspects such as job creation.

The rise in violence, attributed to clashes between gangs and also extended to prisons – the current Government decreed a state of emergency in the prison system in July – has become the big issue of the campaign, especially after that in the days before the first round, the presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was murdered.

Noboa, who surpassed 23 percent of the votes in the first round, promised in the debate to strengthen border control and cooperate with countries in the region to forge alliances. The first six arrested for the murder of Villavicencio, murdered in prison last week, had Colombian nationality, which would show the interrelation between groups from different countries.

In fact, two out of every three Ecuadorians do not feel safe walking alone at night, according to a safety survey carried out by the Gallup firm in 2022, a year that closed with a rise in the homicide rate: it rose to more 25 per 100,000 inhabitants, from the 13.7 registered in 2021, and for 2023 no statistical improvement is anticipated.

For this Sunday’s elections, the Government and the National Electoral Council (CNE) have developed a new security plan that contemplates the deployment of some 53,700 police officers throughout the country. The authorities have also anticipated meticulous controls at access to polling stations, which is why they have recommended voters avoid carrying bags or backpacks to avoid delays.

IN-PERSON VOTING ABROAD
Polling stations will open at 7:00 a.m. (local time) and will not close until 5:00 p.m. For voting abroad, the times will be adapted to the country in question and, for example, in Spain the polls will open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. (peninsular time).

For the first round, an unprecedented telematic voting system was tested abroad, but a series of technical problems have led the Ecuadorian authorities to backtrack and resort again to the polls and in person. On the first day, of the 409,000 potential voters, only 44,000 registered in the system and, of them, only 12,000 were able to exercise their right to vote.

In Spain, more than 179,000 Ecuadorians will be able to participate in a total of 19 electoral precincts, although voting abroad is not mandatory. The most crowded is the one in Madrid, since some 66,800 Ecuadorians are called to the center set up at IFEMA, ahead of the Fira de Barcelona, which totals close to 35,000, according to data from the Embassy.

Technical glitches have also forced parliamentary elections to be repeated for expatriates, who have the right to elect their own representatives in the National Assembly. Revolución Ciudadana is currently the party with the most seats, 48, although regardless of what happens this Sunday it will not be able to reach the absolute majority threshold (69) on its own.

TRIMMED MANDATES
Both the assembly members and the people who hold the Presidency and Vice Presidency of Ecuador will in any case have a shorter term than usual, since it is not about the start of a new period as such but rather covering the two years remaining from the previous one.

This is established by the constitutional precept that the outgoing president, Guillermo Lasso, resorted to in mid-May, who appealed to what is known as ‘crossed death’ to dissolve the National Assembly and thus avoid the start of a political trial. This initiative implied forcing a double electoral advance in the event of a “serious political crisis.”

Lasso, who initially floated a possible candidacy for re-election that he ended up ruling out, has remained largely on the sidelines of the campaign, focused on his official agenda as president and claiming new achievements in the commercial or diplomatic sphere. In terms of security, he has intensified operations in the main prisons.

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