Elections in Ecuador: Anticorreismo Agree to a Massive Recount

Marco Teruggi
https://images.pagina12.com.ar/styles/focal_3_2_960x640/public/2021-02/140922-e1799ef0-6432-4a9a-90ef-96a6d63731e6_0.jpg?itok=Ou_OmZKAPerez, Lasso and advisors negotiate vote recount at NEC.

By an agreement involving only the two losing candidates, without consulting the candidate who won by a wide margin in the first round, a massive revision of the election was approved. The electoral authorities did not explain the reasons nor did they set deadlines for doing so.

In an unusual twist, Ecuador’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced Friday that it will recount 100 percent of the vote in the province of Guayas and 50 percent in 16 provinces, without announcing which ones, or for what reasons. Thus, when the country was about to learn the definitive result for the runoff, with 99.65 percent of the votes counted, a recount process will begin, for which the estimated time was not announced.

The CNE’s decision took place after a meeting in which only Guillermo Lasso, candidate of the CREO-Partido Social Cristiano (PSC) coalition, second in the elections, Yaku Pérez, of the Pachakutik party, third in the electoral result, and the Organization of American States (OAS) participated.

The meeting held at the headquarters of the electoral power was structured around four stages. First, Perez presented what would be irregularities among minutes, ballots and the computer system; second, there was an exchange between Lasso and Perez that oscillated between a negotiation and an agreement to stop Correism; third, a recess of one and a half hours, and finally the announcement made by the president of the CNE, Diana Atamaint, from the Pachakutik party, which lasted a few minutes, announcing what had been decided.

The CNE did not present elements to support why the recount will be made in the provinces, Guayas being the most numerous, where Andres Arauz won with 41.82 percent, followed by Lasso with 25.27, Xavier Hervas with 9.94 and finally Perez with 8.73. The decision was an agreement that left out the other parties, particularly Arauz, with 32.70 percent of the total votes, in the framework of an electoral process where the delegations of international observers present during the voting did not observe any irregularities.

Lasso himself affirmed during the meeting that he had “no shadow of doubt” about the electoral process, but expressed his willingness to partially concede to Perez’s demand. “I ask the CNE, beyond the law, in homage to the request of candidate Perez, to open 100 percent of the ballot boxes in the city of Guayaquil, vote by vote”, affirmed Lasso in what was his first counter-proposal to Perez’s request, who asked for the recount of votes in all provinces. The Pachakutik candidate maintained that, if the votes were recounted, the result of the elections would be inverted: Arauz would be in third place, and the ballotage would be between him and Lasso.

The scenario between the second and the third candidate in the presidential elections, as well as the decision, were televised for only a few minutes, transmitted only by social networks in a country with low connectivity. The final result will have an impact on the electoral process, due to the possible change of numbers, as well as on the timing, about which the CNE did not give any details, although Perez, when leaving the electoral office, affirmed that the process will begin on Sunday.

The unusual decision was made in the context of the suspicions present around the electoral power since the beginning of the campaign due to the number of irregularities committed against Arauz’s candidacy. The presence of the OAS in the meeting, which had a central role in the coup d’état in Bolivia in October/November 2019, brought further doubts about the transparency of the new vote count that will begin. As for the political intention there was no room for doubt: “you and I face the same adversary”, i.e. Correa, Lasso told Perez.

Friday was also marked by the arrival in Quito of the Colombian Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa, who came at the request of the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office, to deliver what would be information on the financing of Arauz’s campaign by the National Liberation Army (ELN). The alleged money support had been disclosed by the magazine Semana days before the elections in Ecuador, in an investigation with information that, according to one of its journalists, “was absolutely not true”.

Thus, in the space of a day, the scenario in Ecuador turned suddenly, although not surprisingly, due to the crisis of the institutions in the context of the lawfare deployed against Correa’s government. The country was faced with an agreement made behind closed doors to recount votes without explanations, and an international maneuver, with the false news of ELN financing, aimed at affecting Arauz’s candidacy.

Translation by Internationalist 360°