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Elections In Ecuador: The Crisis Unleashed By The Counting Of Votes In The Presidential Elections (And What Consequences It May Have)

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More than a week after the first round of the presidential elections in Ecuador, the political future of that country remains shrouded in uncertainty. The results of the elections on Sunday, February 8, gave Andres Arauz, a candidate related to former President Rafael Correa, the winner with 32.7% of the votes. But that result is insufficient to declare him the winner in the first round, so he will have to be measured again at the polls on April 11.

The problem is that it is not yet known who will be his opponent on that ballot. The second place is still disputed between the conservative businessman Guillermo Lasso (19.74%) and the indigenous candidate Yaku Perez (19.38%). Last Friday, both candidates reached an agreement to carry out a partial vote recount that provided for a review of 100% of the minutes in the province of Guayas, the largest in the country, and 50% of the minutes in another 16 of the 24 provinces of the country.

This Agreement Began To Be Questioned Over The Weekend.

On Sunday, Perez sent a letter to the CNE with the data of the 16 provinces in which he requested the recount, but then Lasso responded with another communication in which he denounced an alleged imposition of conditions by his competitor and assured that the recount it had to be carried out in 100% of the acts of Guayas and 50% of six other provinces, as long as the 16 candidates who ran for the election agree. Meanwhile, this Monday session of the plenary session of the CNE was suspended at the last minute, in which it was expected that the bases for the review of the results of the first electoral round would be established.

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Both President Lenín Moreno and the OAS Electoral Observation Mission expressed their concern over the unexpected decision of the. But, what are the scenarios in this situation? Political analyst Pedro Donoso, director of the consulting firm Icare, considers that the electoral situation in Ecuador is the consequence of a deep crisis that that country had been dragging along and that includes different elements, including a crisis of legitimacy.

It indicates that during the electoral campaign the candidates had already constructed a speech about the possibility of fraud in the elections, which affects the credibility of the CNE and the electoral process itself. Added to this situation is the fact that on the voting day the country’s panorama was drawn in five different ways through polls, exit polls, quick counts, the CNE press conference, and, finally, of the results of the scrutiny. In some of these scenarios, it was Lasso who went to the second round and in others it was Perez.

These elements would contribute to the confusion of the electorate and would facilitate the construction by each candidate of a framework to interpret the situation in a way that is favorable to them. Donoso also questions that Lasso and Perez have reached an agreement on how the count was going to be carried out when – he affirms – legally it is the CNE’s job to decide on this. He explains that that deal now faces legal challenges because Lasso has now pointed out that it was supralegal. We are at a time where the political is trying to devour the legal but the legal may have an effect in the future. It can generate a nullity of this electoral process, he says.

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Scenarios

Given the current situation, Donoso contemplates three different scenarios that, in principle, will depend on what the CNE decides on the regulations for the review of the electoral process. That can give way to the request of one candidate or another and its effects would be contrary he points out.

In the short term, he indicates if the process agreed by the CNE ends up favoring Lasso, there could be a social explosion. The indigenous movement has declared to be very attentive to what happens. And there we will have social tensions in the immediate term that will be very complex he warns. In addition, Donoso ensures that the way this crisis is resolved will determine what happens in the second round. If Lasso finally goes to the second round it is likely that Perez’s voters will feel disappointed and feel that they have suffered fraud by Lasso. Then, they would not vote for him and their votes would migrate to null or even correismo points out.

This could also affect governance in the future. Let’s not forget that the indigenous movement has a very important bloc of assembly members and if they feel disappointed by Lasso’s movement, it is very difficult for them to form a bloc against Correismo he adds. Donoso believes that if the formula adopted by the to review the results of the first round favors Perez’s candidacy, then the electoral scenario would also change. I think it would be much more complex for Arauz to defeat Perez. That is in the few polls that were made with that scenario. It is evident that Perez could finally defeat Correismo. So, how this crisis is resolved depends on the governance of the next years in the country, including the second round of April 11, he concludes.

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