He may have been tipped as the favourite candidate in Ecuador’s presidential race but preliminary results reveal Rafael Correa is trailing behind his business tycoon rival Alvaro Noboa. The two are now heading for a run-off on the 26th of November. Little known just months before the election, Correa – a Hugo Chavez ally – had soared in the polls in recent weeks with his anti-establishment and anti-corruption rhetoric.
He immediately denounced irregularities and demanded the chief of the Organisation of American States which is overseeing the vote step down. Rafael Bielsa responded by saying he never made any reference to any particular candidate. “I am not going to do it today and I am prohibited from doing so,” he added.
It’s the third time Noboa, Ecuador’s wealthiest man, is running for president. He has pledged tax breaks and a free-trade deal with the United States, which he says will jump start the economy, along with promises to give cheap credit to the poor. More than half the population in the small Latin American nation lives in poverty. Despite being the world’s number one banana exporter, an economic crisis in 1999 forced Ecuador to default its foreign debt and assume the dollar as its currency.
Civil unrest has forced three presidents from power in just a decade. Whoever wins the vote in November will have to contend with a deeply unstable political and economic situation, if he stays in power long enough.