Ecuadorians have gone to the polls with the pandemic pushing a third of people into poverty.
Former banker Guillermo Lasso declared victory in Ecuador’s presidential election, after his challenger, left-wing economist Andres Arauz, conceded defeat in a poll that took place against a COVID-19 pandemic which devastated an already struggling economy.
Lasso said he accepted the “challenge” to govern after winning the second round with 52.5 percent of the vote out of 97 percent of the ballots being counted, according to figures released by the National Electoral Council.
The electoral council is due to speak at 22:00 local time (03:00 GMT).
“It is a day when all Ecuadorians have decided their future, they used their vote to express the need for change and the desire for better days,” Lasso said at a rally where jubilant supporters chanted ” President of the Lasso! ”
Lucia Newman, Latin America editor of Al Jazeera, said it seemed Ecuadorians were ready to give Lasso a “chance” after he presented himself more as a “father figure” who could bring the country closer together.
“It was unexpected,” she said from the Chilean capital Santiago, noting that Arauz had been the frontrunner for much of the campaign. “His conservative economic policies are not that popular. But the Ecuadorians will give this banker and businessman a chance. He’s really going to have his work cut out for him.
The economy of the oil-exporting country was already weak when the coronavirus outbreak began last year, but the pandemic has pushed a third of the population of over 17 million into poverty and left half a million people. Unemployed.
The austerity measures, which are part of a $ 6.5 billion funding deal with the International Monetary Fund that was imposed by President Lenin Moreno – who has not sought re-election, have failed. had no effect and only caused more pain.
Election council figures show 1.6 million spoiled votes, likely the result of indigenous activist Yaku Perez calling on his supporters to waste their ballots.
Perez ran in the first round of voting in February and narrowly lost to Lasso for a spot in the second round, which he attributed to voter fraud despite not presenting any evidence.