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”.
A second round is not expected to favour 63-year-old Moreno, say analysts. They predict Ecuador’s opposition could join forces around Lasso, who has vehemently attacked the government, blaming it for an economic downturn and corruption scandals.
Fernando Tuesta, a political scientist at Lima’s Catholic University visiting Quito as an election observer, said the trend was unlikely to alter and it would be “very surprising” if Moreno’s votes got past the 40% needed for him to win outright.
“In a likely second round Lasso will face the challenge in bringing together all those people who didn’t vote for either one of them,” he added.