Socialist lawyer, conservative businessman head to second round of runoff elections to determine Ecuador’s next president
08/22/2023 // Ramon Tomey // Views

The South American nation of Ecuador is expecting a second round of runoff elections in October, with a socialist lawyer and a right-wing businessman facing head-to-head.

Ecuadorians queued at polling places to cast their votes during the country's first-round of voting held on Aug. 20. However, no candidate hit the threshold to claim victory even though 98 percent of votes were already counted. Under Ecuadorian law, any presidential candidate who seeks to be elected must get over 40 percent of the votes and be 10 points ahead of the nearest rival.

Lawyer Luisa Gonzalez, a socialist who is close to, and shares the same politics as, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, garnered 33 percent of the votes. Despite failing to reach the threshold, she nevertheless hailed her "triumph" in the first round, remarking: "We are making history."

Gonzalez has positioned herself as a defender of Correa's socialist legacy. She has previously remarked that if elected, the former socialist president who mentored her would be a close adviser in her government.

Businessman Daniel Noboa, meanwhile, garnered 24 percent of the votes, putting him at second place. He said the "youth" had chosen him to beat the Citizen Revolution Movement, the party Correa and Gonzalez are members of.

Noboa became notable for appearing in the country's only televised presidential debate in a bulletproof jacket. His father Alvaro, who amassed a fortune selling bananas and boats, ran for and failed to become president five times.

Given the results of the Aug. 20 elections, National Electoral Council President Diana Atamaint told journalists: "We are heading to a second-round election on Oct. 15."

Ecuador marred by violence days before elections

The banana-exporting Ecuador was once seen as a haven of peace between cocaine producers Columbia and Peru. However, this peaceful perception has changed over the last five years – with the nation becoming a battleground for drug cartels. Ecuador's large ports, lax security and widespread corruption have contributed to this negative view.

Violence often accompanies drugs, and Ecuador was no exception. The country was marred by violence days before Ecuadorians headed out to vote, with the Aug. 9 assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. The journalist-turned-politician was shot while walking to his vehicle at the end of a campaign event, with three rounds ending his life. (Related: Anti-crime, anti-China presidential candidate in Ecuador ASSASSINATED.)

Prior to his murder, Villavicencio was seen as the No. 2 contender in the country's elections. Fellow journalist Christian Zurita, his close friend, replaced the late candidate. Zurita only received 16 percent of the votes, however, putting him in third place after Noboa.

The late candidate had previously crossed swords with Correa over the socialist's pro-China stance and corruption. Correa has been in exile in Belgium for six years over criminal charges launched by Villavicencio. He called the assassinated candidate a "shameless coward" in his last threat issued on social media in November 2022, warning that his "party will be over soon."

Outgoing Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the country after Villavicencio's murder. Authorities also arrested six individuals linked to the murder. The Colombian suspects reportedly had ties to organized crime groups.

Lasso dissolved the National Assembly – Ecuador's unicameral parliament– and called for general elections in a bid to stop an impeachment trial. He explained that the move was necessitated by incessant attempts to oust him, which made the regular business of government impossible.

Security was tightened at polling places following Villavicencio's murder. Soldiers and police officers searched voters at police stations. Some of the presidential candidates wore helmets and bulletproof vests as they were casting their ballots.

"The most serious problem is insecurity," remarked 40-year-old Eva Hurtado as she left a polling station north of the Ecuadorian capital Quito. "So many crimes, assassinations, disappearances. We are afraid."

Visit for more stories about the chaotic situation in Ecuador amid elections there.

Watch this footage of Fernando Villavicencio's assassination on Aug. 9, a mere 11 days before the Aug. 20 elections in Ecuador.

This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on

More related stories:

Ecuador declares 60-day state of emergency following ASSASSINATION of presidential candidate.

Food and fuel shortages, price spikes continue to get worse in protest-hit Ecuador.

Generals warn of aggressive Chinese military expansion into Latin America.

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