Magazine article NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs

Ecuador: Official Results of First-Round Presidential and Congressional Election Trickle In

Magazine article NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs

Ecuador: Official Results of First-Round Presidential and Congressional Election Trickle In

Article excerpt

Electoral results from Ecuador's Oct. 15 presidential and congressional elections have neared completion after long delays and counting snafus. In the vote, conservative business magnate Alvaro Noboa and leftist economist Rafael Correa emerged as the two presidential candidates who would advance to a runoff election on Nov. 26 (see NotiSur, 2006-10-20), but final tallies in the election took days to compile and the officials results on the individuals who would serve in Ecuador's 100-member legislature had still not been released Nov. 8. However, the unofficial results in the Congress most favored Noboa's Partido Renovador Institucional Accion Nacional (PRIAN) and the Partido Sociedad Patriotica (PSP) of ex-President Lucio Gutierrez (2003-2005).

Noboa leads opinion polls

The Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) announced that Noboa had bested Correa of the Alianza Pais, an organization set up by Correa for his presidential run, by four percentage points by winning 26.83% of the valid vote on Oct. 15, while Correa had 22.84%. For Noboa this meant he got 1,464,251 votes, and Correa got 1,246,333 votes. Their nearest competitor was Gilmar Gutierrez, Lucio's brother and fellow PSP member, with 950,895 votes or 17.42%.

Leon Roldos of the Izquierda Democratica (ID) had 14.84% or 809,754 votes. The ID has decided to back Correa's candidacy. Cynthia Viteri of the Partido Social Cristiano (PSC) won 9.63% of the vote (525,728 votes). The remaining eight candidates each won about 2%.

The TRE said 6,617,167 Ecuadorans voted, with 315,376 blank ballots cast and 775,694 ballots nullified. The abstention rate was about 28.5%. The official tally took more than a week to complete.

The final result put Noboa farther ahead of Correa than early reports had. Subsequently, opinion surveys of how Ecuadorans intend to vote in the second round have shown Noboa with a very strong lead.

The nationwide survey by Cedatos-Gallup showed Noboa, a 55-year-old billionaire, with a lead of 49% to 33% over Correa, a 43-year-old former finance minister, in the last week of October. In the survey of 5,062 people, taken Oct. 27-30, another 13% said they planned to cast blank or spoiled ballots in the runoff. Voting is obligatory in Ecuador. The remaining 5% expressed no preference.

"If the election were held now, that would be the result," Carlos Cordova, Cedatos-Gallup's president, told radio Centro.

Polling firm Informe Confidencial showed Noboa leading Correa 47%-32% based on a survey of 1,300 people Oct. 28-29. The Market polling firm found Noboa had 49% compared with 30% for Correa in its Oct. 27-29 survey of 3,960 people.

All the polls had margins of error of 3% points and none were paid for by an outside client.

Noboa's party to have large Congressional presence

Should the trend favoring Noboa hold and he win the presidential runoff, he will have a significant number of allies in the Congress. The PRIAN and the PSP are the two largest groups in legislature, that result emerging after two weeks of the TSE laboriously counting and recounting votes from Ecuador's 22 provinces. Media estimates became the main guide for people wanting to know the composition of the future legislature, since official results were in scant supply. Most major media outlets appeared to lose interest as October turned to November, with many of the news purveyors that cover the region carrying few prominent stories on the outcome of the congressional vote.

Noboa and the Gutierrezes could claim a degree of victory as the television channel Teleamazonas projected on Oct. 30 that the PRIAN would be top force in the unicameral Congress with 27 deputies. The PSP won 21 seats, meaning that, given the two parties' ideological affinity, they could form a bloc of 48. When Teleamazonas released that estimate, there had been a delay in counting votes from Esmeraldas, Guayas, Los Rios, and Manabi, meaning that the TSE had missed a deadline for completing the tally and was forced to apply for an extension. …

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