Publish in Trade Talk - Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Opposition candidate and business favorite Guillermo Lasso has asked for a recount of Sunday's votes for Ecuador's presidency. (Photo: GuillermoLasso.ec)
American Chamber of Commerce, private sector groups ask for recount of votes.
BY LATINVEX STAFF
Sunday’s presidential elections in Ecuador were marred by fraud, Analytica Securities in Quito says. According to preliminary results from the electoral council, government candidate Lenin Moreno won with 51.16 percent of the vote against opposition candidate and business favorite Guillermo Lasso, with 48.84 percent, with 99.73 percent of votes tallied. Lasso has asked for a recount – a move supported by the Comite Empresarial Ecuatoriano, a group that includes all major business organizations in Ecuador, including the American Chamber of Commerce and the national federations of exporters, industries and chambers of commerce.
"Make no mistake, there was fraud on the April 2 elections, largely built upon lessons learned on the first round in February,” Analytica president Ramiro Crespo told the Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin America Advisor.
Back then, the Electoral National Council (CNE in Spanish) had reported a large enough volume of results that any attempt to manipulate them without it being obvious was too late for the government. These results were much in line with Cedatos Gallup’s exit poll. This time around, Cedatos and two other exit polls coincided on a 52 percent to 53 percent victory for Guillermo Lasso. The CNE had demanded such results be handed over an hour before votes closed, and then the CNE (alone) suffered a power outage and its website crashed for almost two hours, only to come back to life with Lasso at 49 percent.
“The statistical unlikelihood of this happening is in part explained by pictures of physical ballots where, when Lasso had more votes, his votes went to Lenín Moreno and vice versa by the time results hit the webpage,” Crespo says. “Far from a ‘good faith’ error, this evidence states the obvious: the election is being stolen. While Lasso will contest, to quote Joseph Stalin, ‘It’s not the people who vote that count, it’s the people who count the votes.’ The general fear is that any appeals process will be fruitless with the current justice channels being controlled by a quasi-dictatorship. It will come down to people going out on the streets once again, and support from Luis Almagro and the Organization of American States will go a long way."
Walter Spurrier, president of Grupo Spurrier and director of Weekly Analysis in Guayaquil, Ecuador, expects that the recount process will take a long time.
“We are in for a long official count,” he told the Latin America Advisor. “Any hastiness in proclaiming official results would be deemed foul play by the losing party.”
Lasso supporters are concerned that challenges are to be decided upon by an electoral body chaired by the brother of the just appointed new attorney general, Spurrier says.
"So far, the election looks like the one that pitted Venezuelan candidates Nicolas Maduro and Henrique Capriles against each other: very close and with half the nation thinking the elections were stolen," he says. "As in Venezuela, popularity of the pink tide wanes, but government continues being pink.”
In either case, the next president will have a weakened mandate, and inherits a fiscal deficit of 5 percent of GDP, which will render it arduous to deliver on campaign promises, Spurrier warns.
Outgoing president Rafael Correa, who assumed office in 2007, implemented investor-hostile policies. As a result, Ecuador became one of the worst countries in Latin America in terms of capturing foreign direct investment, according to several annual analyses from Latinvex. In the latest analysis, Ecuador’s FDI as a ratio of its GDP only stood at 1.1 percent, the third-worst in Latin America after Venezuela and Paraguay. That compared with neighboring countries Colombia (4.1 percent) and Peru (3.6 percent).
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