ISSN 2330-717X

Ecuador: Arauz Election Win Bodes Well For Return Of Democracy – OpEd

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The first-round electoral victory of Andrés Arauz and his Union for Hope coalition in Ecuador increases the chances for a return to sound economic and public health policies, and democratic governance, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.

With 97.62 percent of the vote counted, Arauz had 32.19 percent of the vote. The next two runners-up are still too close to call, hovering near 20 percent each. The election will head to a second round on April 11; at this time it is unclear which candidate, Guillermo Lasso or Yaku Pérez, will proceed to the runoff against Arauz.

Arauz is an economist who previously served as a director of the Central Bank and as Minister of Knowledge and Human Talent under former president Rafael Correa. He ran on a campaign opposed to a highly unpopular IMF-supported economic austerity program that provoked historically large protests in 2019, which the current government of Lenín Moreno violently cracked down on.

“Ecuador experienced profound economic and social gains from 2007 to 2017, and Arauz helped shape and implement economic policy during that period,” Weisbrot said. “The current government used a number of illegal maneuvers to try and prevent the country’s largest political movement from contesting this election ― including political persecution of its leaders up to the popular former president Rafael Correa.”

“For those unfamiliar with how badly democracy was damaged during the past four years in Ecuador, I recommend this summary from 13 members of the US Congress,” said Weisbrot. “It was far worse than what Trump did in the United States.”

“The Moreno administration also cut public investment in health care and laid off thousands of health care workers,” Weisbrot noted. “These and other questionable choices worsened the impact of COVID, while austerity also contributed to an estimated 9 percent loss of GDP last year. Many Ecuadorian voters probably had these profound failures on their minds when they went to the polls, and were looking for someone who would do more to end the pandemic and promote economic recovery.”

Ahead of the elections, Moreno and various of his political allies had persecuted former president Correa, slapping him with dubious “corruption” charges that led to his being convicted of using “psychic influence” over public officials. He was barred from running for public office. This prevented Correa from running as Arauz’s vice presidential candidate. Recently, electoral authorities even banned Correa’s voice and image from campaign materials, forcing the Arauz campaign to redo its promotional items and advertisements. Meanwhile, false narratives in the media accused Arauz of seeking to abandon dollarization, despite Arauz’s consistent support for keeping the dollar during the campaign and as part of the Correa government, and despite that Correa and Arauz had not attempted in any way to break with the dollar during the previous administration.

Disclaimer: Andrés Arauz has been previously employed as a Senior Research Fellow at CEPR.

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) promotes democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives.

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