Ecuador at the ballot box

Ecuador at the ballot box

Editorial Staff
The first round of the presidential elections has ended with a stalemate. Now for an electoral "play-off" on April 2 between left-wing candidate Moreno and the right-wing conservative, Guillermo Lasso

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The result of the second ballot scheduled for April 2, 2017 will decide Ecuador’s next President. The verdict of the polls, in fact, in the first round on February 19 was not enough for any of the candidates to surpass the 40% threshold of votes required to win the election. Recourse to the ballot box was announced by President of the National Electoral Council Juan Pablo Pozo, after counting the votes.

The candidates' race

At the end of the first round, Lenin Moreno, the Progressive candidate linked to outgoing President Rafael Correa, gained 39.3% of the votes, while his main opponent, leader of the right and former banker Guillermo Lasso, stood at 28.1%. Moreno, 64, intends to pursue Correa’s "XXI century Socialism", but using softer, more engaging methods. He has always been committed to defending the weak and is forced to get around on a wheelchair as a result of an attack suffered in 1998. On the other hand, Lasso, 61, embodies the conservative right and prides himself on being a self-made man. The second round could prove risky for Moreno, who could find himself confronting all the opposition forces reuniting under Lasso.

Oil at the center of the economy

For the South American country, the oil sector accounts for more than half of its proceeds from exports and approximately two-fifths of public sector revenues. Ecuador became a member of OPEC in 2007, after its exit in 1992 due to its internal financial situation. Historically affected by heated debates on the possibility of developing the energy industry, in relation to the economic, strategic and environmental implications that this would have led to, the country still suffers from a lack of sufficient refining capacity to be able to meet local demand, a situation that has always forced Ecuador to import refined products, thus limiting its net revenues derived from oil which, in any event, account for 79% of the country’s total energy consumption. As at December 2015, oil reserves stood at 8,275 million barrels, placing the country third in South America, after Venezuela and Brazil. There are three major national oil companies (NOCs), Petroecuador, Petroamazonas, and laOperaciones Rio Napo, a joint venture between Petroecuador and Petroleos de Venezuela, which owns most of the national oil production. Many foreign companies operate in the country, including Eni, Repsol, Tecpetrol (Argentine state-owned company), and Andes Petroleum, a consortium between China National Petroleum Corporation (55%) and China Petrochemical Corporation (45%). Rather modest, however, is natural gas production which, in 2015, stood at around 0.71 billion cubic feet (source: World Oil and Gas Review 2016).