In a presidential debate that offered no surprises, experts say González was the better ‘performer’
In a presidential debate described by one analyst as “boring, flat and linear,” Luisa González and Daniel Noboa stuck to their campaign talking points Sunday night, offering no surprises. The debate was held two weeks ahead of the October 15 election.
“Both candidates were faithful to their scripts in terms of addressing their respective constituencies,” said newspaper columnist Helena Maldonado. “Neither of them made a big mistake but neither of them offered a dramatic revelation that might change the course of the election. Anyone expecting fireworks and spirited debate was disappointed.”
Like several other post-debate analysts, Maldonado said González gave a “slightly better performance” than Noboa. “Although there was nothing new in her proposals, she was more forceful and precise in her delivery.”
On arguably the campaign’s hottest topic, crime and insecurity, González said she would increase the size of the National Police force, provide updated equipment and restore the system of community police units to combat local crime. She said one of her first priorities would be to take control of the country’s prisons. “We are going to crack down on the lawlessness behind the walls,” she said.
Noboa explained his Phoenix Plan to fight criminal gangs and international drug cartels. “We will militarize the borders with personnel and technology to stop the flow of criminals and firearms into the country,” he said. “We will also militarize the ports to stop drug shipments and employ an urban intelligence and surveillance system based on Israeli technology.”
On the question of borrowing Central Bank reserve funds, González said she would take $2.5 billion to bolster the national budget. Noboa, on the other hand, said he would only tap reserve funds as a last resort to assist in recovery from El Niño.
Both candidates pledged support for Ecuador’s use of the U.S. dollar as the official currency.
According to most analysts, the candidates’ proposals for social programs, education and health care offered nothing new. “As they have been during the campaign, their proposals during the debate were surprisingly similar and represent the promises of the past that have gone unfulfilled,” said political science professor Santiago Basabe. “My question continues to be, how do they propose to pay for all of this? They offered nothing substantive tonight.”
Heated exchanges over the so-called “pro- and anti-Correa dichotomy” never developed during the debate. González, who says former president Rafael Correa would be an advisor in her administration, accused Noboa of following the “Moreno-Lasso governing plan” while Noboa claimed that the “profligate” programs of the Rafael Correa government had bankrupted the country’s public health care system. In general, however, the candidates were polite and non-confrontational with each other.
Following the debate, there was consensus among political analyst that, despite his leading poll number, Noboa does not have the election wrapped up.
“Anything can happen in the last two weeks and I certainly don’t count González out of the race,” said political consultant Ecuavisa panelist Natali Becerra. “We all saw what happened in the first round, when Noboa came out of nowhere. This is Ecuador and this is politics. We will have to wait for the people’s verdict on election day.”