Ecuador is heading to a runoff presidential election in April after a young leftwing candidate won a first-round victory on Sunday, following years of austerity measures made more painful by the pandemic.
Andrés Arauz, a 36-year-old protege of former president Rafael Correa, will advance to the 11 April runoff, but it was still too close to call whether he would face the environmental activist Yaku Pérez or conservative banker Guillermo Lasso.
The surprisingly strong showing by Pérez, who is running on a platform of banning industrial mining, shakes up an election that has so far been defined by dueling ideologies of social welfare versus free markets.
According to a quick count by the National Electoral Council Arauz took 31.5% of the vote, Pérez 20.04% and Lasso 19.97%. The count was based on some 2,400 poll statements from a representative sample of voting centers.
Shortly after the announcement, Pérez told reporters that he had won enough votes to enter the second round, and said he was holding a vigil outside the election council’s headquarters in Quito to prevent vote manipulation.
“We’ve come with a plan to hold a vigil, in an active and respectful manner, but to defend the will of the vast majority of Ecuadorians who see hope for a change,” said Pérez.