Conservative banana tycoon takes narrow lead in Ecuador’s presidential vote

Alvaro Noboa will face leftist Rafael Correa in the runoff

Alvaro Noboa, a conservative banana magnate, and Rafael Correa, a leftist economist, will face each other in November Ecuador’s presidential runoff, after preliminary results showed that they were the most voted candidates of Sunday’s tight first round. Mr Noboa obtained 27.43% of votes while Mr Correa won 22% after a first round election, according to provisional results posted by the National Electoral Tribunal.

According to the country’s constitution, If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes or 40 percent of votes with a 10 percentage point advantage, a run-off is to be held The definitive vote is scheduled for Nov. 26, between the two contenders.

About 70% of the almost 9.2 million citizens registered to vote went to the polls. In Ecuador, voting is mandatory for president and legislative positions, which were also elected on Sunday.

No incidents were reported during the voting day, with the exception of some episodes in the north of the country were angry citizens destroyed ballots and polling stations to protest against corruption.

Ecuadorians went to the polls to elect their eighth president in ten years, which is enough evidence of the endemic political unrest that lives the country. Decades of pro-market policies, including the introduction of the US dollar as the local currency, have driven millions to poverty.

As over 60% of Ecuadorians live under the poverty line, the country entered into a decade of political chaos. In less than ten years, three democratically elected presidents were sacked by popular rebellions of disillusioned citizens.

Rafael Correa, who is a former Minister of Economy in the administration of the outgoing president Alfredo Palacio, has investors worried over his plans to renegotiate Ecuador's $10 billion foreign debt if finally elected President. On the contrary, Alvaro Noboa counts with the support of the country’s elite as well as a big portion of impoverished citizens believe in the populist rhetoric of this charismatic tycoon.

The property of the country’s oil wealth, which is exported almost in full to the United States, has been in the center of the debates. As Correa aims to increase state participation in the business by renegotiating contracts with operating foreign companies, Noboa proposed to stimulate foreign inversion and the exploration of new basins at the risk of private firms.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov