Ecuador, between the old polarization and the new discontent | International

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Followers of Guillermo Lasso, this Sunday after the elections in Ecuador.LUISA GONZALEZ / Reuters

Ecuador has one of the most restrictive survey closures in the region. In the ten days prior to the vote, no poll may be published. The last ones that were made public gave, on average, a slight advantage to the correista candidate. Andrés Arauz barely got four points from the eternal conservative candidate, Guillermo Lasso. The final result was just the opposite mirror to this one, but with the same, low margins, always within the margin of error.

Headlines and analysts will look for the story in that change, but the truth is that, regardless of the winner, the demographic portrait is fundamentally identical to that of the polls: Ecuador is, today, a country divided into two symmetrical blocks.

Ten million people went to the polls in a country with compulsory suffrage. Participation remained at high levels: just two million missed the appointment, a proportionally similar number to past elections. High voter flow is a characteristic feature of polarized elections. In them, citizens are compelled to demonstrate, particularly if polarization (as de facto happens in Ecuador) has a strong component of rejection of the option contrary to their own. Affective polarization, according to its political sense, is enlivened every day on all possible discursive fronts. Former President Correa has been taking care of it until the last minute, for example, from his Twitter account in exile: from suspicions of fraud in the polls to frontal attacks on his rival Lasso, the strongest battering rams of the campaign have taken shape. negative rather than propositional.

On the other hand the logic has been exactly replicated. Lasso has, in fact, four years in the campaign: since he lost against the outgoing president Lenin Moreno, a former Correa dolphin who turned around quickly, but without finding an accommodation or a solid base, his objective during all this time has been to mark a clear position. from which to accumulate political capital as the only leader truly removed from the legacy correista.

In this environment it is easy to forget that the first round ended with a tie that took weeks to resolve between a relatively unexpected candidate and Lasso himself. Yaku Pérez contested the former banker's place from an indigenous position that, later, he has tried to sustain by asking for (and exercising) a null vote in the second round. And, in fact, this type of vote increased significantly compared to 2017: from 670,000 to more than 1.6 million.

Before attributing the power to move a million supporters to the null to Pérez, it is important to note that in the first round of this year there were already more than, precisely, a million of this type. But both facts together indicate that polarization may be the beginning, but it is not the end, of the Ecuadorian political portrait. Behind her hides a considerable dissatisfaction with the state of things. The power of a candidate outsider and 17% of null or blank votes say as much as a first round in which Pérez and other candidates (such as the businessman tiktoker Xavier Hervás) caught by relative surprise an establishment accustomed to living divided into two halves. The polls managed to identify the trend, but without properly calibrating its intensity, impeded at the same time by the aforementioned electoral ban.

The mandate that begins on May 24 will move between these two gravitational forces of politics. The lug from side to side to maintain the structure of the polarization that tore Moreno apart (not without his own help, and that of the virus); and other more indefinite, unpredictable pushes, which are already looking to 2025.

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