Ecuador chooses a conservative for president; Peru prepares for the second round | WGN 720 radio
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) – Ecuador will be ruled for the next four years by a conservative businessman after voters on Sunday pushed back a leftist movement that has led to an economic boom and then a recession since he took office the last decade. That electoral certainty, however, did not spread to neighboring Peru, where the presidential race heads to a run-off after none of the 18 candidates won more than 50% of the vote.
South American countries have held elections under strict public health measures amid a growing coronavirus pandemic that has caused further lockdowns and exacerbated a general feeling of fatigue. Peru, which also elected a new Congress, reported its highest number of deaths per day from COVID-19 as voters went to the polls.
Former banker Guillermo Lasso’s victory in Ecuador came after less than half a percentage point put him ahead of another candidate and saw him claim a spot in Sunday’s second round. The result breaks the country’s years under the so-called Correismo, a movement labeled after former President Rafael Correa who ruled Ecuador from 2007 to 2017, has grown increasingly authoritarian in the later years of his presidency and was sentenced to prison last year for corruption. scandal.
Correa’s protégé Andrés Arauz easily entered the competition to replace President Lenín Moreno, who chose not to be re-elected. Moreno was also an ally of Correa but turned on him during his tenure. In the second round, Lasso took advantage of the discontent with Correa and his allies, but he will have faced a strong Correista bloc in Congress.
“For years, I have dreamed of the possibility of serving Ecuadorians for the country to move forward, so that we can all live better,” Lasso said Sunday night in front of a room full of supporters despite social distancing guidelines in the city. port city of Guayaquil. “Today you have resolved that it be so.”
Accompanied by his wife, María de Lourdes Alcívar, Lasso declared that from the inauguration day on May 24, he will dedicate himself “to the construction of a national project that continues to listen to everyone, because this project will be yours ”.
Despite his stated conservative positions on some issues, he promised to accept other views. He was due to arrive in Quito, the capital, on Monday.
Election officials have not officially declared the winner, but Arauz conceded the election on Sunday and at least one head of state congratulated Lasso on the result.
Capital Economics economist Nikhil Sanghani wrote on Monday that the divided National Assembly “may water down” some of Lasso’s policies, but that concerns about “a shift to interventionist politics under Arauz” should give way to relief that leftist populism did. not prevail.
“The more market-friendly Lasso looks set to maintain friendly relations with the (International Monetary Fund), and will likely focus on improving public finances,” Sanghani wrote. “… Our best guess is that the new government will pursue more moderate fiscal austerity, which would prevent the public debt-to-GDP ratio from skyrocketing, but also not lowering it as the IMF expects.”
The pandemic crippled 70% of businesses in Ecuador last year and brought the country’s unemployment rate to nearly 68%. The country had already experienced an economic slowdown that began in 2015, largely driven by the fall in oil prices.
Likewise, in Peru, the world’s second-largest producer of copper, the economy spiraled downward when a lockdown of more than 100 days at the start of the pandemic left an estimated 7 million people unemployed. But unlike Ecuador, Sunday’s elections did not shed any light on the country’s future.
Eighteen presidential candidates turned the election into a popularity contest in which an ultra-conservative candidate even explained how he suppressed his sexual desires. But none got more than 50% of the backing needed to avoid a runoff on June 6.
Election officials said on Monday that leftist Pedro Castillo had 16.3% support with 57.4% of the votes counted. He was followed by right-wing economist Hernando de Soto, ultra-conservative businessman Rafael López Aliaga and Keiko Fujimori, opposition leader and daughter of polarizing former president Alberto Fujimori.
The crowded presidential competition came months after the country’s political chaos reached a new level in November, when three men were president in a single week after one of them was impeached by Congress over allegations of corruption and protests forced his successor to resign in favor of the third.
Simultaneously, the country has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, with more than 1.6 million cases and more than 54,600 deaths on Sunday.
Castillo, a rural teacher, has proposed to rewrite Peru’s constitution and deport all immigrants living illegally in the country, an initiative targeting the wave of Venezuelans who have sought refuge in the crisis in their home country. He also wants to nationalize the mining, oil and energy fields.
The result may alarm investors.
“This result is a surprise and could put the Peruvian financial markets on the back,” Sanghani wrote. “Polls suggest that no presidential candidate got more than 20% of the vote, and the winner will face a divided congress. There is a risk that the fractured political system will hamper Peru’s response to the pandemic. “
Peruvian officials said on Sunday that COVID-19 had killed 384 people a day earlier, the highest number of deaths in a single day from the pandemic.
Hospitals are at full capacity and sick people are dying at home. Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign saw meager progress and was embroiled in a scandal in which wealthy and well-connected people, including a former president, were secretly vaccinated before anyone else.
All of the former Peruvian presidents who have ruled since 1985 have been trapped in corruption allegations, some jailed or arrested in their mansions. One died by suicide before the police could arrest him.
Claudia Navas, political, social and security risk analyst at global company Control Risks, said Peruvians on the whole do not trust politicians, with corruption a key factor in disillusionment with the political system. . She said the new congress will likely continue to exercise its impeachment authority to strengthen its own influence and block any initiative that threatens its own power.
“Whoever wins, we believe the president is unlikely to complete his term due to the populist-type stance of Congress and the risk of political instability is likely to persist across the administration.” Said Navas.
Garcia Cano reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writer Franklin Briceno contributed to this report from Lima, Peru.
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