Sunday’s presidential electoral victory in Ecuador of Lenin Moreno poses as many questions as it does answers for the future of Latin America.
On the left hand, it came to ratify the satisfaction of two continued administration by moderate socialist president Rafael Correa, who has governed the South American nation since 2009. The presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia claim is a victory for socialist party Nation’s Alliance (Alianza País) and is the path of the future.
On the right the good news – defeat is not good news – is that it was a close race and opposition for the “CREO” (I believe) movement. In the final tally Lenin Moreno pulled slightly ahead with a 51.17 percent of the vote, while Guillermo Lasso won 48.83 percent. A close race in which Lasso managed to upgrade the amount of votes he got the last time he ran for president against Rafael Correa in 2013 when he only got 22 percent of the suffrage.
The nearly nose-to-nose is meaningful for the new president because it came to show that Ecuadorean voters are deeply divided and not so happy with the result of Rafael Correa’s administration which has sown unhappiness and discontent among the lower income classes.
The traditional groups that took Correa to the presidency eight years ago are no longer so sure his was the right path as women, Indian, farming and small left wing organizations pulled their backing from him feeling betrayed because they saw him lean to the middle and right wing of ideological Ecuador.
The message for president-elect Lenin Moreno was very clear from both sides of the political spectrum. One is that he can’t abandon the socialist ideals that voted him into power, but he is under obligation to respect the not so minority vote that Lasso garnered during the electoral process.
Guillermo Lasso did not immediately admit defeat but was left no chance but to concede much to his chagrin. What hurt him the most during the electoral race was that he was consistently accuse that during the time he was Economy Minister during the Jamil Mahuad presidential Administration (now condemned to 12 years in prison for peculation) and that surely he had deposited all the money he stole in that period in an illegal fiscal haven.
But still Lasso managed to get nearly 49 percent of the vote which positioned his CREO party in an advantageous situation as they will be able to counterweight Lenin Moreno’s sometimes fierce anti-capitalist rhetoric. Like it or not, the people of Ecuador have sent a clear message that the middle of the road is the right path Lenin must follow for the next four years.
Keeping rightists and leftists happy at the same time has proven difficult any time and any country but this is exactly what the Ecuadorean voters have delivered into the hands of Moreno.
The echoes of Lenin Moreno’s close victory resound all over Latin America where neither socialists nor capitalists are too happy because the voting trend is not giving either side a definite victory.
In Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto has had Foreign Relations secretary Luis Videgaray deliver a message of congratulations. But in Mexico the President faces a very similar problem Guillermo Lasso faced, and that is, contending in the future with his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) against what definitely Lenin Moreno is, in the eyes of Peña Nieto, a “populist.”
In Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro was oozing in joy because it only comes to show his massive Venezuelan opposition that socialism is the way to go, even if it leads into bankruptcy.
In England, the one man breathing glory is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as Guillermo Lasso had promised that “in my first 30 days in office” he would evict Assange from the Ecuador Embassy where he’s been given asylum for several years now. Now Assange can stay at the embassy for as long as necessary to avoid deportation to the U.S. where he faces breach of classified government information charges.
Be as it may there will be continuity in Ecuador’s government but most important is that in the end, Rafael Correa’s socialist government permitted a competitive democracy in which his party could have lost.