Presidential election in ecuador: authoritarian-left or eco-left

In Ecuador, two left-wing candidates will probably run in the April runoff election. But they represent completely opposite models.

Ecuador’s Yaku Perez could be the first indigenous candidate to enter the presidential runoff Photo: Dolores Ochoa/ap

The election results in Ecuador are surprising, almost a sensation. Contrary to the right-wing zeitgeist, two candidates who belong to the left-wing camp will probably run in the runoff. Yaku Perez may become the first indigenous candidate to enter the runoff for the presidency. The 51-year-old’s lead over the right-wing candidate is razor-thin. But it could work out in the end. This would mean that, contrary to all predictions, the right-wing in Ecuador would have lost

Then the alternative is Perez or Andres Arauz. Arauz is the representative of ex-president Rafael Correa, who still has the support of a third of the population. But only a third. Arauz mobilized only 32 percent in the first round of voting. That reduces his chances for the runoff. Correa knows this, too, and on election night he ranted from his home in Belgium about possible electoral fraud.

The Arauz-Perez duel will bring to bear the polarization between supporters and opponents of former President Rafael Correa. The choice on April 11 would then be authoritarianism versus more say. Perez is a convinced opponent of Correa. He was imprisoned five times during Correa’s term in office for opposing his extractivist policies, i.e., the ruthless exploitation of oil or metal ores even in nature reserves.

Thus, the runoff election will also be a vote on how to deal with Ecuador’s resources. Oil is the Andean country’s most important foreign exchange earner. Oil exports bring fewer and fewer dollars into the country. Nevertheless, the transformation of the extractivist model has not been tackled so far. Instead, the mining of metal ores through open-air mega-mines has been pushed.

Arauz stands for "business as usual," Perez for a new orientation. The runoff election is thus likely to be about authoritarian-left-etatist versus radical-ecological-indigenous with votes from the center-right. This alternative is not only at odds with the zeitgeist – it is new.

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