Must confess — I was utterly surprised by election results in Ecuador.
To my freedom-infused soul, economic conditions and civil rights restraints exercised by the Correa Administration would inexorably lead the government candidate Lenin Moreno to defeat. I, of course, was as wrong as most members of Latin American elites are when it comes to reading their people’s minds.
Yes, the contender Mr Guillermo Lasso has demanded a recount and argues he can prove that he was the victim of fraud.
But the Ecuadorian government doesn’t seem to be accepting a recount nor do the people of Ecuador seem ready to fight for the recount.
Given that current administration is part and parcel of the 21st century Latin American Socialist block, it truly seems unlikely to engage in a recount lest it is 100% sure that Mr. Moreno truly won the election.
To be sure, in polarized situations incumbents can keep power whenever the distance vis-à-vis the contender is less than 10%, because in these circumstances electoral “make-up” is a possibility. When the cheat surpasses 10%, cover-up is as difficult as trying to hide the length of Cyrano de Bergerac’s nose with foundation.
Thus, for the recount to materialize one of two conditions need to be met. People furiously demand this measure on the streets. Or a powerful enough international institution casts its weight in favor of the recount. Neither seem to be about to occur any time soon. Some people protested Sunday April 2nd but have since gone invisible.
Internationally, elections in Ecuador have been overshadowed by developments in Venezuela that seem to have taken a turn for the worst with President Maduro performing a horrific charade over millions of hunger and disease ridden Venezuelans that reminds the world of Nero’s singing over burning Rome. And sadly, enough for Ecuador Venezuela has worked very hard to get the national security threat badge initially issued by the US but recently endorsed by many Latin American nations. This means that hemispheric political focus will be placed in Venezuela while the Ecuador recount demand drifts through middle cadre bureaucracies that will take years to come up with a definite result.
As for the campaign, democratic opposition chose the opportunity to heighten their differences in lieu of strengthening their democratic resolve. They also chose to talk among themselves and for the elites.
Meanwhile Mr Moreno went in a house-by-house tour showing his physical limitations as an asset in terms of firming his resolve to fight for the disfranchised.
He made the effort to reach out to members from original nations in their own language and to discuss matters that were important to them such as improved roads to market their products, better public schools and support for the victims of the 2016 earthquake.
Mr Lasso, on his part, had a very appealing message in terms of economic policy and civic rights. But to my mind his message was wrapped in an elite delivery language that could not touch the hearts and minds of his prospective beneficiaries.
At the end, populism seems to have overcome rationality. And this could continue to happen in so far as Latin American elites do not address the realities of unbalanced development — which create two realities inside each nation: poverty and emerging middle classes and solidified middle classes and landholders. To the first, the rhetoric of populism seems to penetrate. Time to learn that language if we want to send “21st century socialism to rest!!”
Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Monday April 3rd, 2017.