Ecuador voters must choose between a socialist and the heir to a banana fortune on Sunday in the nation’s bloodiest presidential election in living memory.
(Bloomberg) — Ecuador voters must choose between a socialist and the heir to a banana fortune on Sunday in the nation’s bloodiest presidential election in living memory.
Luisa Gonzalez, 45, wants greater state control of the economy, while Daniel Noboa, 35, favors free markets and measures to boost competitiveness.
“What’s at stake is very different versions of what the country’s economic model should be,” said Risa Grais-Targow, Latin America director at Eurasia Group.
Polls show investor-favorite Noboa as the frontrunner, but markets are pricing in a grim outlook whoever wins. The nation’s bonds are trading at deeply distressed levels, implying a likely default in three years.
But however bad the economic outlook is, violence was the top issue for voters, even before one candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, was gunned down. Then his suspected assassins were massacred in prison before they could testify. A poll released Oct. 5 found 44% of respondents said crime is the top issue affecting the country, followed by unemployment, with 16%.
Noboa and Gonzalez are both pledging to get tough on the cocaine cartels that transformed the country from a peaceful corner of Latin America into a more violent place than Mexico and Colombia.
Read more: Ecuador Presidential Hopeful Wants Violent Prisoners Put to Sea
Noboa has led polls since he made it to the runoff, although the lead narrowed after a strong debate performance by Gonzalez on Oct. 1.
The snap election was triggered when President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the congress in May to avoid impeachment, forcing an election under a constitutional procedure never used before. Whoever wins will only serve out the remainder of Lasso’s term ending in 2025, as will the newly-elected National Assembly, elected Aug. 20 during the first round of the voting.
Correa’s allies have the largest number of seats, which would make governing hard for Noboa, though Gonzalez would also lack an outright majority.
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