In a major election surprise, Daniel Noboa surges into presidential runoff with Luisa González; Voters end oil production in the Yasuní National Park
In an election overshadowed by the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, 35-year-old Daniel Noboa is the surprise challenger to Luisa González in the October 15 runoff. With 97% of ballots counted, González of Citizens Revolution led the field of eight candidates with 33.28% of the votes while Noboa, National Democratic Action, had 23.7%. Christian Zurita, replacement candidate for Villavicencio, was the other surprise of election night, finishing third at 16.3%.
Of the candidates widely expected to challenge González for a runoff spot, Otto Sonnenholzner won a disappointing 7.2% while Yaku Pérez fared even worse at 3.75%. Jan Topic finished fourth at 14.60%.
Two other candidates, Xavier Hervas (Reto) and Bolívar Armijos (Amigo) finished with 0.47% and 0.34% respectively.
In the election’s other major news, Ecuadorians voted to end oil production and exploration in the Yasuní National Park. Considered by many to be the election’s most important issue, the “yes” vote stood at 58% with 80% of the votes counted.
On a local mining referendum, Quiteños voted overwhelmingly to ban mining in the Chocó Andino reserve.
In the National Assembly elections, with less than 50% of votes counted, the Citizens Revolution was well ahead of all challengers at 39% while Construye, the party of Villavicencio and Zurita, had 21% followed by Advance with 14% and the Social Christians with 11%.
“We did not see this coming,” television analyst Ricardo Castro said of Noboa’s second-place finish. “We knew there could be surprises because of the Villavicencio murder but did not expect Noboa to come from so far behind to make the runoff. The polls and all of the election watchers, including me, were wrong. It is obvious many voters were looking for a new and younger face and Noboa understands how to use social media.”
Castro called Noboa’s second-place finish “phenomenal.” “In the last average of the polls, 10 days ago, he was at 8% or 9% and in fifth place. People say it was his skill with social media apps like TikToc and Instagram that led to his fast finish.”
Besides Castro, other election commentators said that the first round of the presidential race was similar to 2021. “In fact, Noboa is in a better position for the runoff against González than Lasso was against Arauz two years ago,” said former National Assembly member and pollster Jorge Iglesias. The Correistas have a big battle on their hands to win in October.”
Noboa, a Guayaquil businessman and son of former presidential candidate Álvaro Noboa, was the youngest candidate in the election at 35. He was educated in the U.S., earning degrees in business administration at New York University and in Public Administration at Harvard. He served in the National Assembly until President Guillermo Lasso declared the cross death, dissolving the Assembly.
Luisa González, 45, who also served in the National Assembly, is a former member of the Social Christian party who held several positions in the Rafael Correa administration. She studied economics at the Institute of Higher National Studies and earned a master’s degree in international economics and development at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.