Luisa González, on her way to becoming the first woman President of Ecuador

The candidate of Revolución Ciudadana won the first round of the elections with more than 33% of the votes, and in the run-off ballot she will be able to add votes from indigenous and progressive sectors. The right-wing candidate, who came within 10 points of the winner, wants to establish that he will be able to win in the second round, but it is an uphill struggle. There was also a plebiscite on whether or not to keep oil underground in an Amazonian national park, and 59 per cent voted to leave the oil in the ground.

Luisa González, of the Citizen’s Revolution (RC) movement, won the first round of the presidential election with 33.15% and is now firmly in the running to become the first woman President of Ecuador, representing progressive, social and left-wing forces.

With the possibility of adding votes from indigenous and progressive sectors for the run-off election on 15 October, Luisa González was politically and electorally strengthened.

Daniel Noboa, the candidate of the right and the business sector, reached 24%, and despite being 10 points behind Gonzalez, he wants to show that he can win in the second round, but he is uphill.

To have won on Sunday, a presidential hopeful had to have 40 per cent of the vote or more, which was not the case and Luisa González and Daniel Noboa went through to the second round. Whoever wins on 15 October will take office on 30 November.

The standard-bearer of RC, founded by former president Rafael Correa, celebrated with her supporters in the south of the capital, when the figures already gave her a nine-point lead.

She said that “this brave Ecuador, this Ecuador with a sense of homeland mobilised, went out, broke through fear, gave more weight to the hope for change and voted for a woman and for the Citizen’s Revolution”.

She added that “it is the first time in the history of Ecuador that a woman has received such a high percentage of votes in the first round, winning the elections to become president of the republic and lead the destiny of the country”.

“We are risking our lives here, we are going to do it for you, for 18 million Ecuadorians, and we make a call (…) to what the country needs most, to unity, to peace, to leave hatred behind, which is what has led us to fall apart, the call is for the unity of all Ecuadorians, the private sector, the public sector, all the forces of the country”, said the winner of the first round.

Meanwhile, the right-wing candidate said in Guayaquil that Ecuadorians “are going to have the opportunity to vote for Correism or for the non-Correist option. We want to form an alliance for the people. We have a great project, we had an excellent campaign in the territory, based on social networks, and in the debate, we strengthened ourselves”.

Noboa is the representative of the business and conservative sectors and is the son of tycoon Álvaro Noboa, who on five occasions sought power in Ecuador.

The first to concede defeat was former vice-president Otto Sonnenholzner, who came fifth with 7 percent. He was followed by former sniper and ex-paratrooper, the right-wing Jan Topik, with 15 percent, and Christian Zurita, who took over from the assassinated Fernando Villavivencio, and came third with 16.29 percent. Left-wing indigenous leader Yaku Pérez obtained 4 percent.

Adding to the violence is an institutional crisis that has left the country without a Congress for three months when unpopular President Guillermo Lasso (a former right-wing banker) decided to dissolve it and call early elections to avoid impeachment in a corruption impeachment trial.

The government mobilised more than 100,000 police and military personnel for the day in which Ecuadorians were called to elect a president, vice-president, 137 assembly members and respond to a popular consultation on whether or not to keep oil underground in a biodiverse area located in the Amazon.

The plebiscite on natural resources

A historic referendum to halt oil drilling in part of the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon was also voted on yesterday, as the world seeks to cut back on fossil fuels and mitigate global warming.

With 23 percent of the ballots counted, the “yes” vote for keeping oil in the ground had 59 per cent support.

In addition, in Pichincha, whose capital is Quito, there was another vote on whether or not to allow the mining of silver, gold and other minerals in the Andean forests around the capital.

The social and political climate

Ecuador faces a climate of violence, extortion, kidnappings and hired killings in the streets, caused by criminal gangs in territorial disputes over drug trafficking and distribution, which have resulted in more than 4,300 violent deaths so far in 2023 alone. Reversing this scenario will be the main challenge for the next president.

Gangs linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels are fighting for the drug business and use prisons as a centre of operations, where they have registered bloody massacres that have left 430 inmates dead since 2021.

Poverty reaches 27 percent of the population in a dollarised economy, and a quarter of Ecuadorians have informal work or are unemployed.

El Siglo