Elections are underway in Ecuador and tourists are advised to exercise caution while sightseeing in Quito and other major cities because of the tensions between the government and the opposition.
In the same way that emotions boiled over in the U.S. during the elections between Trump and Clinton, the tensions between the left wing socialist government and centre-right libertarian opposition has led to protests in various cities and provinces across the country, especially after widespread denunciations of electoral fraud.
The first round of voting occurred on the 19th of February, which elected politicians from across the country for the legislative assembly. The second round of voting, on the 2nd of April, will be between Lenin Morena of the ruling party Alianza Pais (the anointed successor of the current President Rafael Correa) and Guillermo Lasso of the political party CREO, a former director of one of Ecuador’s largest banks.
President Correa and his party Alianza Pais have ruled over Ecuador for the last 10 years – an unprecedented period of time in Ecuador’s modern history, which often saw governments change on average of every two years through nonviolent coup d’etats to massive protests from the country’s large indigenous population.
While Correa still remains popular amongst a section of the Ecuadorian population, numerous corruption scandals that have implicated some of the highest members of his government, including Jorge Glass, the vice-president and running mate of Lenin Moreno, have threatened to derail Alianza Pais’ campaign narrative about their investments in social programs like schools and hospitals as well as large infrastructure projects including the country’s Trans-Andean highways.
Ecuadorian society has always been quite polarised between the left and the right – the most interesting phenomenon in these elections is that many indigenous organisations and leaders, which normally occupy the left wing of Ecuador’s political spectrum, have thrown their weight behind the right wing candidate Guillermo Lasso.
This apparent pivot is not due to ideological reasons, but because the mining and petroleum industries under Correa and Alianza Pais have been particularly damaging to their communities and to the environment. Whether Ecuador’s powerful mining industry will be any different under the right wing candidate Guillermo Lasso, is another debate altogether.