Elections in Ecuador

As this edition goes to press, amidst accusations of fraud, the preliminary election results indicate that no candidate got enough votes to win in the first round of balloting,. The outcome will be settled in a second round on November 26 between the
multimillionaire banana entrepreneur Alvaro Noboa (with twenty-six percent of the first round votes) of the right wing Partido Renovador Institucional Acción Nacional (PRIAN, the Institutional Renewal and National Action Party), and the self-described “Christian left” economist Rafael Correa (twenty-three percent) of the Alianza País (National Alliance).

The regime’s crisis deepens

The results of the first round demonstrated the profound crisis facing the regime and the traditional parties, which saw their worst election ever. The Christian Social party got about 9.5% of the vote, in fifth place, while the candidate backed by the Democratic Left was left in fourth place, behind the surprising rise of Gilman Gutiérrez, brother of the fallen president Lucio Gutiérrez, who came in third1.

The situation demonstrates the regime’s terminal crisis, in which Parliament has a a ninety-five percent disapproval rating, where since 19976 no elected president has served out his full term, and where the masses have experienced bringing down three governments in the past nine years.

The result also expresses a social and political polarization, in which the right wing candidate Noboa, who promised to support a free trade agreement with the US, got most of his votes along the coast, where most of the country’s economic activity is concentrated, while Correa, with his campaign against corruption, against free trade, and for a political reform of the regime, got most of his votes in the central region with the support of the middle classes and the peasant and indigenous sectors, agricultural producers who would be badly affected by free trade with the US.

Nevertheless, despite being presented as opposing candidates, both agree to maintain the dollarization of the economy that threw millions of Ecuadorians into misery after 2000. Correa, who is said to be a “leftist” candidate, is for keeping the huge blow to workers’ wages caused by this process, which keeps half of all Ecuadorians in poverty and sixty percent living on less than two dollars per day. His excuse is that “it’s harder to get out of dollarization than it is to get into it.”

Towards an unstable government

Whatever the result of the second round may be, the outlook is for a weak, unstable government. Either candidate will have to make deals with the traditional parties, which, while profoundly discredited, still make up a large fraction of Parliament. A right wing Noboa government would also have to face off against the masses implement a free trade agreement with the US along with its package of neoliberal reforms. On the other hand, a Correa government without its own parliamentarians, even though he is continuing to harmonize his talk with the program of the traditional parties, and weaving alliances with sectors of these parties has he heads into the second round, could encounter a strong opposition in congress which would leave him in a very unstable position.

In this second round, neither the right wing Noboa, nor the “leftist” Correa are an alternative. The workers and poor people of Ecuador who saw with their own eyes how the “nationalist” Lucio Gutiérrez became a neoliberal, bringing about his downfall, can only trust their own forces to end the misery and exploitation to which every one of the bourgeois parties subjects them.

Translated by Working Class Emancipation


1 Gilmar Gutiérrez got a strong vote from
evangelical indigenous sectors in the Amazon provinces where his brother was able to establish a network of cronies during his government.

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Left Voice

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.