Ecuador Holds Presidential Election: Runoff Between Banana Business Scion and Legal Practitioner

by Joshua Brown
Ecuador presidential election

Amidst rising violence both on the streets and within correctional facilities, Ecuador’s populace is united in its demand for safety as it heads to the polls this Sunday to elect a new president.

The runoff election features Daniel Noboa, the successor of a banana conglomerate, pitted against Luisa González, a legal practitioner. Both candidates have limited experience in governance, signaling a challenging tenure ahead.

This electoral event is set against a backdrop of increased drug-related violence that began approximately three years ago and escalated in August when a presidential candidate was publicly assassinated. The citizens are cautious, limiting their outdoor activities, and the heightened sense of insecurity has even led Noboa to incorporate a bulletproof vest into his daily attire.

The incoming president, to be determined by a simple majority, will serve a truncated term lasting only 15 months, ending in May 2025. This period fills the remaining term of outgoing President Guillermo Lasso, who prematurely terminated his tenure by dissolving the National Assembly in May amidst impeachment inquiries concerning alleged misconduct related to a state-owned company contract.

Lasso, a conservative and former banker, faced continual legislative opposition following his 2021 election and opted not to participate in this special election. Prior to the opening of the polls, he urged the electorate to prioritize long-term national interests, committing to ensuring a secure and transparent voting process.

During Lasso’s administration, the country witnessed an alarming increase in violent deaths, numbering 4,600 in 2022—twice the figure recorded in 2021. The National Police accounted for 3,568 violent deaths during the first six months of 2023 alone. This surge in violence is largely attributed to the entrenchment of drug cartels from Mexico, Colombia, and the Balkans, which operate with support from local criminal organizations.

Voting is compulsory for Ecuadorian citizens between the ages of 18 and 64, with non-compliance resulting in a financial penalty of approximately $45. The polling stations are scheduled to close late in the afternoon, with election results anticipated by Sunday evening.

Julio Ricaurte, a 59-year-old engineer, expressed skepticism near a voting center in northern Quito, the capital. He cited the limited term of the upcoming president and the restrictive nature of Ecuador’s National Assembly as major constraints on effective governance.

Both Noboa and González, who have previously served brief legislative terms, advanced to the runoff after outperforming six other contenders during the first election round on August 22. Noboa, aged 35, is a beneficiary of Ecuador’s primary agricultural sector—bananas—and began his political involvement in 2021. He has previously held managerial roles in various sectors of his family’s business, Noboa Corp.

González, aged 45, has a history of governmental roles under the presidency of Rafael Correa, who also serves as her mentor. Though initially unknown to the majority of voters, her profile rose when Correa’s party selected her as their presidential candidate. She has subsequently attempted to moderate her association with Correa to appeal to a broader electorate.

Rosa Amaguaña, a 62-year-old vendor of fruits and vegetables, echoed the public sentiment, stating that resolving the safety issue should be the first priority for the incoming president.

“I hold optimism for a transformation of our country,” said Amaguaña. “The forthcoming president must, at the very least, make minor improvements.”

Reporting contributed by Gonzalo Solano from Quito, Ecuador.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ecuador presidential election

What are the key issues driving the Ecuadorian presidential election?

The primary concern for the Ecuadorian populace in this election is public safety, particularly amid rising levels of violence on the streets and within prisons. Drug-related violence has significantly escalated in recent years.

Who are the candidates in the presidential runoff?

The candidates are Daniel Noboa, an heir to a banana business empire, and Luisa González, a legal practitioner. Both have limited experience in governance, which presents challenges for the upcoming presidential term.

How long will the winner serve as President?

The elected president will serve a truncated term of 15 months, concluding in May 2025. This period fills the remaining tenure of outgoing President Guillermo Lasso, who dissolved the National Assembly amidst impeachment proceedings against him.

Why did the previous president, Guillermo Lasso, not run in this election?

Guillermo Lasso, a conservative former banker, opted not to participate in this special election. His term was marked by constant legislative clashes and he decided to dissolve the National Assembly in May during impeachment proceedings against him over alleged contractual improprieties.

What is the role of the National Assembly in this context?

The National Assembly has been a contentious body that has historically made governance difficult. This was evident during Guillermo Lasso’s term, and it is a concern for the incoming president, given the assembly’s role in impeachment proceedings and legislative roadblocks.

Is voting mandatory in Ecuador?

Yes, voting is mandatory for Ecuadorian citizens between the ages of 18 and 64. Failure to comply results in a financial penalty of approximately $45.

What has been the public sentiment toward the election?

Public sentiment is mixed but leans toward skepticism and concern for safety. Many believe that the incoming president will have limited time and legislative support to enact meaningful change, particularly in the realm of public safety.

How has drug-related violence impacted the election?

The escalation in drug-related violence, attributed to Mexican, Colombian, and Balkan cartels operating in Ecuador, has made public safety the forefront issue in the election. Violent deaths have doubled in a year, reaching historic highs.

When are the election results expected?

The polling stations are scheduled to close in the late afternoon, and the election results are expected to be announced by Sunday evening.

More about Ecuador presidential election

  • Election Overview
  • Candidate Profiles: Daniel Noboa
  • Candidate Profiles: Luisa González
  • Guillermo Lasso’s Tenure
  • Rising Violence in Ecuador
  • Role of the National Assembly
  • Compulsory Voting in Ecuador
  • Drug-Related Violence and its Impact on the Election
  • Public Sentiment on the Election

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David Lee October 15, 2023 - 8:23 pm

Interesting how González was unknown and then rose to prominence. Politics sure is a game of opportunities and timing, isn’t it.

Mike Johnson October 15, 2023 - 9:13 pm

Public safety being the number one issue is no surprise. With cartels involved, this is a big deal. Hope they choose the right person for the job.

Sara Williams October 15, 2023 - 10:38 pm

So voting is mandatory there? Can’t even imagine what that’s like. Also, only 15 months in office? doesn’t seem like enough time to get anything done.

Anna Clark October 16, 2023 - 12:30 am

Man, 4,600 violent deaths in one year, that’s terrifying. Whoever gets elected has their work cut out for them, no doubt.

John Smith October 16, 2023 - 5:37 am

Wow, didn’t know Ecuador was going through all this. A banana empire heir vs a lawyer, that’s something you don’t see everyday.

Emily Brown October 16, 2023 - 7:58 am

the national assembly sounds like a mess. How’s the new president gonna navigate through all that in just 15 months?

Robert Allen October 16, 2023 - 9:06 am

If safety’s the biggest concern, hope the new prez can at least make some headway there. Even small improvements could make a big difference.


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