A runoff vote appears likely in Ecuador’s presidential election with Lenín Moreno appearing to fall just short of the 40% required for outright victory over his rightwing rival Guillermo Lasso. With more than three-quarters of the official votes counted on Sunday night, the national electoral council gave 38.83% to Moreno, who was a former vice-president under the outgoing Rafael Correa, and 28.58% Lasso, a 61-year-old former banker. For an outright win a candidate needs 40% and a 10-point lead over his nearest rival. The widely different results of two exit polls saw Moreno’s camp celebrating victory in the first round, while Lasso declared there would be a second round in which he would face the government’s candidate. Nonetheless Moreno’s supporters draped in lime-green colours of the Alianza Pais coalition celebrated late into the night to as live cumbia music blasted from a stage erected on a main avenue the headquarters in Quito. At the close of voting, Moreno, flanked by Correa and the vice-president, Jorge Glas, told his rival to “lose with dignity” while he would “win with humility”.
Articles about voting issues in South America.
Rafael Correa has so dominated political life in Ecuador for 10 years that the election in many ways appears to be a referendum on his legacy. While the opposition criticizes Correa for dramatically expanding the size of the state at the expense of the private sector, excessive hiring of public servants, cracking down on freedom of the press, and ruling with an authoritarian style, supporters praise him for investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and transportation. However, every one seems to agree that Correa’s famed confrontational style worked to his detriment. The word often repeated here in reference to his administration is “prepotente”: indeed Lenin Moreno, Correa’s hand-picked successor herein faces his greatest electoral challenge: seeking to disassociate himself from the imperial nature and penchant for conflict of his mentor and predecessor.
Ten years ago, as Latin America’s “pink tide” reached its high-water mark, leftwing leaders such as Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa were in power across the continent. But death and election defeat have since culled their numbers and trimmed their power. Cuba is on a path of moderate reform after the death of Castro. Venezuela was lurching from one crisis to another even before Chávez succumbed to cancer in 2013. Morales’s days as president of Bolivia are also numbered after he failed in an attempt last year to change the constitution to allow him to run for re-election. This Sunday, Ecuador will also make a change, with the first presidential election in more than a decade not to be contested by Correa, who is stepping aside after winning three consecutive terms. Whether the country now follows the continental trend towards centre-right government or remains a bastion for the left is being contested in an unusually dirty campaign.
Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election. In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified. “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” he said during an interview in Quito. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.” That possibility is still some way off. In the most recent poll, Lasso is seven points behind the ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno, but the former banker has been gaining ground ahead of the first round of voting on 19 February and is widely tipped to force a runoff. Even if there is no change in power in Quito, however, it seems increasingly likely that Assange will soon be moving from the cramped embassy in Knightsbridge that has been his refuge for more than four and a half years.
Ahead of the presidential elections, Ecuador is rolling out a plan to make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. For the upcoming presidential elections in Ecuador people with a disability will have preferential or home-assisted voting thanks to a plan promoted by the current leftist government of Rafael Correa. Ecuadoreans will elect their new president on Feb.19, and one of the candidates is disabled. Lenin Moreno served as Correa’s vice president from 2007 to 2013 and has been in a wheelchair since being shot in 1998. He has since served as special envoy on disability and accessibility at the United Nations.
Ecuador’s ruling leftist party candidate leads voting intentions in the small Andean country ahead of presidential elections next month, but does not have enough support to win in the first round, two recent polls showed. After recent major losses for Latin America’s leftist bloc, Ecuador’s election is being scrutinized for a potential further setback as the end of a regional commodities boom and corruption scandals fuel voters’ desire for change. Lenin Moreno, 63, a disabled career politician who uses a wheelchair, has garnered support with vows to continue popular president Rafael Correa’s social programs, but the ballot seems increasingly likely to spill over to a second round in April. Some 34.3 percent of voters plan to vote for Moreno, a former vice president and United Nations special envoy on disability, pollster Cedatos said on Monday night.
Colombia: How governments pitch a referendum is a big deal. Here’s what we learned in Colombia. | The Washington Post
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today, in recognition of his four-year effort to guide peace negotiations with Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC. The October announcement about the prize came just days after Colombians rejected a referendum on the historic peace agreement to end the armed conflict that has plagued the country for half a century. In late November, the two sides pushed through a revised peace deal addressing some of the concerns of those who voted against the referendum. Santos avoided another referendum by getting the senate and the lower house to approve the new pact. The outcomes of referendums — whether in Colombia, or the June Brexit vote or December’s Italian referendum — make it clear that getting people to vote for government initiatives is harder than one would expect.
On 24th November the opposition-controlled Argentine Senate blocked a vote on electoral reform that included the implementation of a new electronic voting system as proposed by President Mauricio Macri. The government-sponsored bill had already been approved by the lower house of Congress in October, but the delay in the Senate means it will not be sanctioned before the end of the legislative year, and therefore not applicable for the mid-term elections in October 2017. However, the government says it will continue to push for the reform, and the debate over the electronic voting system – known as the Single Electronic Ballot (BUE, in Spanish) – continues in Argentina, where it has already been deployed in the province of Salta and the city of Buenos Aires. Various forms of electronic voting are also currently present in countries such as Brazil, Canada, Estonia, India, the USA, and Switzerland, while other states such as Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands have abandoned it after a short period of use.
Argentina’s senate voted down an electoral reform proposal that included the implementation of single electronic ballots. Many are calling the decision a political defeat for Mauricio Macri, who backed the reform, and which was heavily opposed by the Kirchner bloc, known as the Front for Victory. Thursday, November 26, the political party made its majority status in the Senate known by holding off the initiative, based on the testimony of computer experts and their explanations regarding “the high vulnerability of some of the proposed methods” involved in the electronic voting ballots. The Peronists reportedly guaranteed their support for the reform, but decided yesterday to boycott it. Experts only seemed to be on board with an effort to “continue analyzing tools that will improve the electoral system.”
Venezuela’s Congress on Sunday declared that the government had staged a coup by blocking a drive to recall President Nicolas Maduro in a raucous legislative session that was interrupted when his supporters stormed the chamber. Opposition lawmakers vowed to put Maduro on trial after a court friendly to his socialist administration on Thursday suspended their campaign to collect signatures to hold a referendum on removing the deeply-unpopular president. Lawmaker Julio Borges said the opposition-led congress is now in open rebellion after a majority of its members voted that the decision constituted a coup with government participation. “We will bring a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro to get to the bottom of his role in the break with democracy and human rights here,” Borges said.