Lenin Moreno will take office as President of Ecuador on May 24, 2017.
The election in Ecuador went right down to the wire and came so close that both candidates supported a recount effort. Coming in to the recount, Lenin Moreno was narrowly ahead of his opponent Guillermo Lasso. The former is the candidate for Ecuador’s socialist party Alianza PAIS and the successor to the previous president Rafael Correa; the latter represents the center-right party CREO. The two represent regional divides in Ecuador as well, with Lasso having support from the coastal city of Guayaquil and Moreno taking support from Ecuador’s mountainous capitol Quito. Coming out of the recount, Moreno had actually won by a slightly wider margin than before.
So why did Lasso demand a recount? Pointing to exit polls that put him in a strong lead, Lasso alleged widespread fraud in the Ecuadorian election. After Lasso demanded a recount and Moreno pushed for it as well, the government’s election agency recounted about 10 percent of the total votes tallied. They recounted the votes that each side found irregularities with and requested be reviewed. Moreno won by the first count and the recount, however Lasso does not accept the results. Lasso believes that all votes need to be counted again for the sake of legitimacy of an election he calls “anything but transparent.” Some of Lasso’s skepticism likely emerges from more than just exit polls, too. Alianza PAIS has been in power for around a decade now and after a bad year for Ecuador’s economy Lasso and his party had made a stronger showing than it ever had before. Some of Lasso’s distrust may also come from that regional divide – the love long lost between Guayaquil and Quito.
Yet in fairness to Moreno and the Alianza PAIS (Country Alliance in english), regional, independent bodies presided over the elections to fight any potential fraud or foul-play. Both the Organization of American States and the Union of South American Nations sat in on the election and did not find any evidence of tampering. Before the recount had even happened presidents across the continent were calling Moreno to congratulate him on his victory. Despite this, Lasso insists he was the true winner of the election and the President of Ecuador.
CREO party members did not take part in or observe the recount efforts, claiming them invalid for not recounting all votes. Regardless, Moreno will enter into office on May 24th. Moreno’s victory is not just a statement on Ecuador’s support for him, but for his party’s socialism. In a time where much of South America’s leftists parties and governments fail to find success in elections and growth, Ecuador’s democratically elected, economically solid socialism may be an important counterweight.