The result marks a heavy defeat for the coalition of “Koreistas”, the main political force in Ecuador for about fifteen years
At the age of 35, Mr Daniel Noboa, son of billionaire Alvaro Noboa, yesterday Sunday became the youngest president to be elected in Ecuador’s history, winning the second round of presidential elections with 52.3% of the vote, and promised to get to work “immediately” to restore “peace” in the country torn apart by the violence of gangs devoted above all to drug trafficking.
His opponent, the 45-year-old lawyer Luisa Gonzalez, political heir to former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017), received 47.7% of the vote and conceded defeat before the counting was even completed, offering “sincere” congratulations to the winner. The National Electoral Council (CNE) later declared Mr. Noboa the winner, clarifying that the turnout was extremely high, reaching 82.33%.
In the name of the father
“Tomorrow (today Monday) we will start working for the new Ecuador (…) to rebuild the country, which has been hit hard by violence, corruption and hatred”, pledged the elected president, who will assume his duties in December.
He expressed his thanks “to God, to my wife, to my parents and to all those who became part of a new, youthful, unpredictable political plan, with the aim of bringing smiles back to the country.”
Mr. Noboa, educated at US universities, is fulfilling the ambition of his father, a five-time unsuccessful candidate for the highest state office, including in the 2006 election, when he was defeated by Mr. Correa. He grew up living his campaigns. He gave up a position in the family business when he was elected to parliament in 2021.
As he repeated incessantly in his campaign, he promised once again to “bring peace back” to the country, to give “education”, “jobs to many who ask for them”, peace “to the families who cannot go out on the street”.
His supporters in the capital celebrated by honking their car horns when the result was announced. The voting took place without any serious incident being reported.
The result is a heavy defeat for the coalition of “Koreistas”, the main political force in Ecuador for about fifteen years. After all, the vote took place under the shadow of Rafael Correa – exiled, convicted in absentia for corruption – who was claiming his reinstatement in the role of adviser to the presidency.
On August 20, Mrs. Gonzalez took first place, garnering 34% of the vote.
The benjamin of the election, Mr. Noboa, however, sprung a surprise, making it to the second round (23%) after a campaign marked by the assassination of one of the front-runners, Fernando Villavicencio, a former journalist and anti-corruption crusader, by Colombian paid hitmen.
The elections were held “in a climate of insecurity and political violence imposed by gangs linked to international organized crime,” the press summarized yesterday.
Once an oasis of calm in Latin America, Ecuador, with a population of 18 million, has experienced an unprecedented wave of violent crimes linked to drug trafficking in recent years. The country is located between Colombia and Peru, the two states that are ranked first and second respectively in terms of cocaine production.
Married with two children, the president-elect studied at the best American universities before joining the family business empire, Noboa SA.
Smiling but restrained, with an athletic demeanor, he promised to get tough on the gangs. He suggested “militarizing ports and borders”, better guarding “strategic export and trade routes”, increasing “civil vigilance”.
His other public safety announcements include the creation of a national intelligence agency to oversee all other law enforcement agencies, including the prison service (SNAI), which he accuses of being an “absolute disaster”, referring to repeated massacres inside detention centres. Last weekend, seven suspects in the murder of candidate Villavicencio were found murdered in prisons.
He declares himself “center-right”, however he is classified as a neo-liberal and by definition belongs to the political-economic elite that comes from the world of business.
His 76-page program has four aspects, “social, economic, institutional and environmental” and a “strategic” foundation to combat the “deeper causes of low economic growth and high levels of crime”, phenomena which he sees as linked .
The president-elect, with little – two years – experience in political matters, will have little time to make his promises a reality. He will rule until early 2025, when the term of outgoing right-wing president Guillermo Lasso, who opted to call early elections to avoid being suspended from parliament as he faced the prospect of a corruption trial, would have ended.
Mr. Noboa will need to forge alliances to secure a majority in parliament, where political power is fragmented: he can count on the support of only 13 of his own members, compared to the Korean Party’s 48, out of a total of 137 seats.
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