By Satyaki Chakraborty
Daniel Noboa, heir to the largest business family of Ecuador won the Presidential election in the South American country Ecuador on Sunday by defeating the leftist lawyer Luisa Gonzalez after a bitter campaign marked by assassination of a candidate, shootings and jail killings. Noboa has little experience as a political leader but Gonzalez is a veteran who worked with the former president Rafael Correa and has been active in politics for long years.
With more than 97% of the votes counted, electoral officials said Noboa had 52.1%, compared to 47.9% for Luisa González of the left coalition. González conceded defeat during a speech before supporters in which she also urged Noboa to fulfill his campaign promises.
Noboa, 35, will lead this 17 million Latin American country during a period when drug trafficking has reached its peak and the joblessness of the youth has made the young people who comprise 30 per cent of the country’s population restive. The continuing insecurity during the regime of the incumbent president Guillermo Lasso has led the the people to look at security as the main issue in the elections, apart from unemployment.
Luisa Gonzalez was frontrunner in the first round of presidential elections held on August 22 this year.. Daniel Noboa was a surprise runners up, but in the run off on October 15, the centre right Noboa could trounce the formidable Gonzalez by projecting himself as afresh face in politics as against the conventional politicians. He emphasized on restoring peace and security in the country as also finding out innovative ways for generating new jobs for the youth.
After results showed him victorious, Noboa thanked Ecuadorians for believing in “a new political project, a young political project, an improbable political project.” He said his goal is “to return peace to the country, to give education to the youth again, to be able to provide employment to the many people who are looking for it.” To that end, Noboa said, he will immediately begin to work to “rebuild a country that has been seriously hit by violence, corruption and hatred.”
The incoming president’s term will run only through May 2025, which is what remains of the tenure of President Guillermo Lasso. He cut his term short when he dissolved the country’s National Assembly in May as lawmakers carried out impeachment proceedings against him over alleged improprieties in a contract by a state-owned company.
So that way, the Ecuadorian Left coalition has another chance in May 2025 just one and half years from now to challenge the newly elected pesident. Gonzalez told her supporters on Sunday night itself after the results were out that they should be prepared for the next round of battle so that the Left can come back in the 2025 presidential elections.
Political observers of Latin American developments are of the view that it will be difficult for the new president Noboa to fulfill his promises during this short period. Further, Noboa lacks that organizational skill to lead his centre right combination. A good section of the right leaders are not convinced of his integrity. They feel that Noboa will use his presidency to further the business interests of his family conglomerate. Banana is the main export item of Ecuador. Noboa family controls the entire banana business in the country.
Noboa’s political career began in 2021, when he got a seat in the National Assembly and chaired its Economic Development Commission. The U.S.-educated businessman had opened an event organizing company when he was 18 and then joined his father’s Noboa Corp., where he held management positions in the shipping, logistics and commercial areas.
His father, Álvaro Noboa, is the richest man in Ecuador thanks to a conglomerate that started in the growing and shipping of bananas — Ecuador’s main crop — and now includes more than 128 companies in dozens of countries. The elder Noboa unsuccessfully ran for president five times.
One difficulty of Noboa in running the government will be his own part’s lack of majority in the national assembly. He will have to depend on other partners for getting majority. The other right parties may not always extend that support. The left coalition is aware of this possibility and their members of the national assembly are determined to focus on the urgent issues of the economy so that the Noboa presidency can be cornered. For the new president, it will be a short term full of political turmoil. (IPA Service)