Ecuador faces stark choice in presidential run-off

Andres Arauz, presidential candidate in Ecuador, waves a large national flag on stage at the end of his campaign on Thursday. He is tied at about 50 per cent in the race against conservative banker Guillermo Lasso. Photo: Juan Diego Montenegro/dpa
Guillermo Lasso Photo: Juan Diego Montenegro/dpa

(dpa) – In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a severe economic crisis, Ecuadorians took to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president.

In the second round of the presidential election, conservative banker Guillermo Lasso was facing left-wing candidate Andres Arauz. In the latest polls, both candidates were effectively tied at around 50 per cent of the vote.

“On Monday we will have a new elected president,” Vice President Maria Alejandra Munoz said on Sunday, noting the extraordinary circumstances for a vote – “in the middle of a pandemic and a vaccination campaign.”

The first results are expected on late on Sunday.

Arauz is seen as the protege of Rafael Correa, a former president. If he wins the election, he is likely to continue Correa’s policy of “21st century socialism,” increase subsidies and oppose the austerity programme demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Lasso, on the other hand, stands for a liberal economic programme. He wants to create jobs and attract foreign investors.

The 65-year-old is a member of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei association and is strictly against same-sex marriage and abortion.

The South American country is in a deep economic crisis due to the drop in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous president, Lenin Moreno, had recently seen his popularity plummet and did not stand for re-election.

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