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Protests and Fraud Allegations Follow Ecuador's Presidential Election

Bandera del Ecuador. Foto de Yamil Salinas Martínez en Flickr. Usada bajo licencia CC 2.0

Ecuador's flag. Photo by Yamil Salinas Martínez from Flickr. Used in accordance with CC 2.0 licence.

Daniela Gallardo contributed to the original Spanish-language article. The English-language translation below has been edited and updated.

Following intense campaigning from candidates Guillermo Lasso and Lenin Moreno, it was the latter who was declared the winner of the presidential run-off election in Ecuador on April 2. However, the opposition and Lasso's supporters are alleging fraud and calling for protests to demand a new count.

The official numbers given by the National Election Council was 51.16% for Moreno and 48.84% for Lasso.

The days following the vote have seen a massive wave of demonstrations, documented under the hashtags #Megafraude (Mega-fraud) and #LicenciadoMoreno (“Graduate” Moreno, a common name used for someone who has a degree) to underline the fact that some people refuse to call him “president-elect”:

Some Ecuadorians citizens have gone to the streets to make their voices and their protests heard

The campaigns exposed a strong division amongst voters, between those who essentially view ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno as continuing the socialist-inspired agenda that until recently was lead by President Rafael Correa, and those who view CREO party candidate Guillermo Lasso as representing strategic change more in line with conservative economic ideals.

Lisette Arévalo Gross and Sol Borja, analysts from Ecuadorean media outlet GkillCity, described how the candidates fit into the context of Ecuador's confrontational political landscape, and also the fear that many Ecuadorians have regarding freedom of expression and preserving democracy. Regarding those who voted for Lasso, Arévalo Gross said:

Hay mucha gente que está de acuerdo con Guillermo Lasso de que al Ecuador hay que salvarlo. Esa es la razón por la que van a votar por él, lo apoyan y siguen. Incluso hay quienes no lo apoyan, ni lo siguen, pero votaron por él en primera vuelta por la simple y sencilla razón de que Guillermo Lasso era el más opcionado para llegar —como en efecto llegó— a una segunda vuelta con Lenín Moreno, el candidato que corre por Alianza País, el partido de gobierno.

Many people agree with Guillermo Lasso in that Ecuador needs to be saved. That's why they're going to vote for him, they support and follow him. Including those who don't support him, or follow him, but they voted for him in the first ballot for the plain and simple reason that Guillermo Lasso was the most likely to reach  — indeed as he already has — a second ballot with Lenin Moreno, who's running for the government party, Alianza País.

And with regard to Lenin Moreno, Borja highlighted:

[Lenin Moreno] Ha sido presentado como la cara buena de un fenómeno político liderado por un personaje de carácter explosivo, intolerante e impulsivo […] La idea de que Moreno es un patriota es repetida por sus seguidores y pulida por su equipo de campaña. Hay un cerco estricto que hace muy difícil llegar a él y verlo fuera de la imagen heroica que presentan sus asesores.

[Lenin Moreno] Has been portrayed as the friendly face of a political phenomenon lead by a volatile, intolerant and impulsive character […] The notion that Moreno is a patriot is reiterated by his supporters and refined by his campaign team. There's an impenetrable wall that makes it difficult to get to him and see him outside of this heroic image that his advisers portray.

Others consider Lasso to be too conservative to appeal to the political centre's vote, which could have changed the outcome.

Lasso didn't want to please anybody… As a society we should be unyielding against the most corrupt government in history…

Voting day was full of setbacks. Complaints about polling stations circulated on social media, and organisations such as Usuarios Digitales (Digital Users), which follows citizen trends across online media, were accused of foul play for sharing information that could be inconvenient for candidates close to the government.

#DigitalAlertEC: Web page for election monitoring from CREO political party is currently offline. Possible DDoS attack

There were comparisons made to other political situations in the Latin American region. For many, the rise of Moreno to power is a continuation of agendas similar to the political and economic strategies seen in Venezuela, which has been at the centre of intense debate due to its political and economic crisis.

I hope what happened in Vzla is an example for Ecuador, that the vote will be a resounding NO to socialist dictatorship in the 21st century #EcuadorChooses2017

Similarly, allegations of fraud evoked accusations made during Venezuela's 2013 elections between Nicolás Maduro, the current president of Venezuela, and Henrique Capriles, his most important opponent:

The same thing that happened in Venezuela in April 2013 is happening now in Ecuador. Capriles won and then National Election Council proclaimed Maduro with 1% lead. Fraud

They're doing the same to #GuillermoLasso in Ecuador as they did to Capriles in #Venezuela. No to FRAUD! #LassoPresident

Lasso announced that he will call for a recount of votes and that he will accept the outcome even if he loses “by one vote”.

In light of the country's unmistakable division, some concluded:

Dividing the country into two irreconciliable parts with a 50% split : Rafael Correa Delgado's greatest achievement.

Just what we needed in a political and economic crisis, a president whose electoral legitimacy is called into question. Keep it up!

Beyond allegations of fraud or the notion of a political party increasing in power, the concerns and tensions over corruption and limitations to freedom of expression continue.

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