By Ronald J. Morgan
This year’s Ecuadoran Elections wrapped up on a sour note and with the prospect of rising political confrontation. Right-wing Opposition Candidate Guillermo Lasso has refused to recognize the results of the second round voting.
“I will never recognize the victory of a candidate declared by the National Election Council,” Lasso, 61, said shortly after a final vote recount April 18. Speaking from a Guayaquil Hotel the president stressed, “I can’t be a participant to a fraud, I can’t be a participant to a deception of the voters, of a process full of illegalities, of abuse and of constant arbitrariness.” 1.
The charges, however, did not receive backing in the international community. The United States, the Organization of America States and the Union of South American Nations election vouched the April 12, second round election was free of fraud. 2, 3, 4, 5
After the recount of 1.2 million votes the Ecuadoran National Election Council declared the official result 51.16% for official Country Alliance (Alianza Pais) Party Candidate Lenin Moreno against 48.84% for Creating Opportunities (Partido CREO-SUM) Candidate Lasso.
Lenin Moreno, 64, and his vice president, Jorge Glas, 47, will continue the left policies of outgoing President Rafael Correa (2007-2017). Both men have served as vice president under Correa.
Moreno, who is paraplegic as a result of a crime assault, has vowed to continue expanding social benefits and create more housing and universities. But he is constrained by low oil prices, which have created a recession and heavy government debt. Following the vote recount, Moreno thanked voters in a Tweet for their support and promised not to defraud them. He also said he was open to a national dialogue. “It is time for agreements on the great national objectives. Democracy has been strengthened. We look ahead, the future will not be detained.” 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
He will be inaugurated May 24.
Ecuador has also elected a new 137 SEAT congress and has approved a referendum restricting politicians from having offshore accounts. The referendum passed with the support of 55.12% who voted, some 5 030 579 votes. Some 44.88%, some 4,096,559 votes were cast against the measure. The new congress will draw up a law implementing the offshore restriction. 12, 13, 14
In congress, the official Country Alliance (Alianza Pais) party saw their number of seats drop. The party won 74 seats, down 26 seats from the last election.
The Right-wing Creating Opportunities Party (Partido CREO-SUMA) won 34 seats. A gain of 22 seats.
The Right-wing Social Christian Party (Partido Social Cristiano) of Cynthia Viteri won 15 seats. Up 9 seats.
The results, while showing the right making gains, nevertheless leave the Country Alliance with a working majority in congress.
Expectations of a right-wing win in the presidential vote drove the election from the start and have led to the current standoff. Lasso had promised to cut taxes and create jobs. He vowed to be advocate of democratic change in Venezuela and to review Ecuador’s loans with China. He also said he would ends Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange´s asylum at Ecuador’s London Embasssy. 14a
At the time of the Feb. 19, first round elections Lasso, a banker, seemed within striking distance of an upset. Lenin Moreno fell just short of the 40% plus 10 percentage point difference in votes needed to win in the first round with 39.36% of the vote. Lasso followed with 28.9% vote. In third place was right-wing Social Christian Party’s Viteri with 16.32% of the vote. A four-day delay in completing the vote count produced the first uncertainty regarding fraud in the Lasso opposition.
Throughout the second round election campaign there were poll predictions that Lasso would win. Recent right-wing shifts in Argentina and Brazil, and a right-wing victory in a reelection referendum in Bolivia, also added to the expectation of an opposition win.
The April 2, election night brought the two sides into dispute when inaccurate exit polls showed Lasso winning. Lasso pronounced himself the winner early on election night and a number of television stations announced that exist polls showed Lasso ahead giving the impression of an opposition victory. Adding to the confusion, was a cut off of the vote tally website for 20 minutes.
President Correa has said this cutoff was the result of a cyber attack coming from somewhere in the United States. When the website returned to operational and Lenin was shown winning, Lasso accused the government of fraud.
On April 5, Lasso announced that his party had found irregularities in 1,795 voting documents. Some 592,350 votes were affected, Lasso said. Lasso demanded a vote by vote recount. The Ecuadoran National Election Council decided to recount a sample of 1.2 million votes in public on April 18. 15
Lasso said it was not enough and did not attend the recount. Lasso charged the judges of the CNE were biased.
The elections took a further tense and angry turn when President Rafael Correa charged that there was a conspiracy at work throughout the 2017 elections. Correa has charged that two polling firms and the television stations, Ecuavisa and Canal Uno, had engaged in an effort to make it look like Lasso was winning on election night. The Polling Firm Cedatos pronounced Lasso ahead based on exit polls and the polling organization Participacion Ciudadana called their poll a technical tie but their actual result showed Moreno winning.
As a result criminal charges are being considered against the polling firms Cedatos and Participacion Ciudadana and the televsion stations Ecuavisa and Canal Uno. The polling and media outlets have denied any wrong doing. The investigation also extends to whether the Creo-Suma party paid for positive polling results throughout the campaign. 16, 17, 18
The election news coverage also produced a dispute over whether a newspaper should be required to reprint a news story related to one of the presidential candidates. A Ecuador Nongovernmental Organization, Observatorio por la Calidad de la Información brought a complaint before the government press regulation board (Superintendencia de Información y Comunicación) contending that 7 newspapers had failed to print relevant information contained in a March 15 Argentina Newspaper Pagina 12 article related to candidate Lasso’s taxes and finances. 19
The government press regulatory body voted to fine the seven major newspapers 3,750 dollars each. The media include El Comercio, El Universo, La Hora, Expreso and T.V. stations Teleamazonas, Ecuavisa and Televicentro. The case is under appeal.
The refusal to concede defeat by Lasso and the government investigation into the possible manipulation of polling data to favor Lasso have increased political tensions. A possible Venezuela like standoff between the opposition and the government will be casting a cloud over the Moreno inauguration.
The situation has brought criticism from one of Ecuador’s most influential right-wing politicians, Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot. Nebot has publicly criticized Lasso’s inability to prove his election fraud accusations. 20
In another move that is aimed at keeping opposition pressure on the government, a new opposition group, Movimiento Unidad, Cambio y Progreso,
has filed an action with the Ecuadoran National Election Council calling for a referendum to call a new constitutional convention. The convention would make major political reforms, including eliminating indefinite reelection and changing how judges on the National Election Council are chosen. 21
(For full elections results see wikipedia: Elecciones presidenciales de Ecuador de 2017)
1. Lasso: ‘Jamás reconoceremos la victoria de un candidato declarado por el CNE como presidente electo’ _El Comercio 19 de abril de 2017 http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/elecciones-discurso-guillermolasso-recuento-cne.html#.WPeaQhRx9H8.twitter
2. OAS Observer Mission Hails Ecuador Elections, Dismisses Fraud http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/OAS-Observer-Mission-Hails-Ecuador-Elections-Dismisses-Fraud-20170403-0037.html
3. ‘Impossible’: Ecuador’s Electoral Missions Address Fraud Claims http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Impossible-Ecuadors-Electoral-Missions-Address-Baseless-Fraud-Claims-20170329-0042.html
4. Misión de la OEA en Ecuador destaca participación democrática y llama a resolver cuestionamientos por la vía institucional 3 de abril de 2017http://www.oas.org/es/centro_noticias/comunicado_prensa.asp?sCodigo=C-021/17
5. Estados Unidos felicita a Lenín Moreno por su victoria electoral http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/estadosunidos-felicitaciones-leninmoreno-elecciones-ecuador.html
6. 19 de abril de 2017 12:13 Lenín Moreno agradece apoyo y llama a un acuerdo nacional http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/leninmoreno-acuerdos-recuento-elecciones-cne.html
7- 21 de abril de 2017 00:00 Lenín Moreno tiene pendientes en agenda 32 ofertas de campaña http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/leninmoreno-ofertas-pendientes-ecuador-politica.html
8. Ecuador Elections: Housing, Poverty Reduction Will Drive Lenin Moreno’s http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Ecuador-Elections-Housing-Poverty-Reduction-Will-Drive-Lenin-Morenos-Government-20170329-0028.html Government
9. 24 de abril de 2017 13:59 Cepal calcula crecimiento de 0,6% para la economía de Ecuador http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/cepal-calcula-crecimiento-economia-ecuador.html
10. Ecuador supera la recesión económica y cerrará el 2017 con crecimiento del 1,42% Esta noticia ha sido publicada originalmente por Diario EL TELÉGRAFO bajo la siguiente dirección: http://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/economia/8/ecuador-
11. 26 de abril de 2017 00:00 El Gobierno presentó su plan de financiamiento en Londres http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/gobierno-plan-financiamiento-londres-deuda.html. Si está pensando en hacer uso del mismo, por favor, cite la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. ElComercio.com
12. 26 de abril de 2017 00:00 Alianza País renueva la cúpula de la futura Asamblea Nacional http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/alianzapais-asamblea-asambleistas-elecciones-cargos.html
13. Elecciones legislativas de Ecuador de 2017 https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elecciones_legislativas_de_Ecuador_de_2017
14. Consulta popular de Ecuador de 2017 https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consulta_popular_de_Ecuador_de_2017
26 de abril de 2017 00:00 Alianza País renueva la cúpula de la futura Asamblea Nacional http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/alianzapais-asamblea-asambleistas-elecciones-cargos.html
16. Rafael Correa habla de complot en contra de los resultados electorales http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/rafaelcorrea-complot-resultados-elecciones-presidencia.html#.WOqEuIgEG-o.twitter
16a La batalla de Rafael Correa contra las encuestadoras http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2017/04/08/america/1491663240_194731.htm
17. CNE cuestionó a Cedatos y Participación Ciudadana http://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/politiko-2017/49/cne-cuestiono-a-cedatos-y-participacion-ciudadana
18 10 de abril de 2017 11:31 El periodista Rafael Cuesta Caputi renunció a Canal UNO 27456 El periodista Rafael Cuesta Caputi anunció en su cuenta de Twitter su renuncia a Canal UNO. Foto: Archivo/ EL COMERCIO. El periodista Rafael Cuesta Caputi anunció http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/participacionciudadana-cedatos-apoyo-rafaelcorrea-elecciones.html
19. Ecuador fines media for not publishing a story http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-39682264
20. Jaime Nebot lamenta que Guillermo Lasso no haya podido probar supuesto fraude electoral http://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2017/04/26/nota/6156361/jaime-nebot-lamenta-que-guillermo-lasso-no-haya-podido-probar
21. Un nuevo movimiento inició un proceso para impulsar una Asamblea Constituyente en Ecuador. http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/nuevo-movimiento-proceso-impulsar-asambleaconstituyente.html#.WQDT9OSVlIk.twitter