Moreno is close to victory as final votes are counted; many predict a runoff with Lasso

Feb 20, 2017 | 7 comments

As advertised, the outcome of Sunday’s presidential race is coming down to the wire. As of 6 a.m. Monday, with almost 90% of votes counted, it remains unclear whether leading candidate Lenin Moreno will collect 40% of all votes cast for an outright win. Many are predicting an April 2 run-off with Guillermo Lasso, who trails Moreno by slightly more than 10%.

Lenin Moreno celebrates in Quito. (El Comercio)

The latest count gives Moreno, of President Rafael Correa’s Alianza País party, 39.1%, less than a percent short of a first-round victory. Lasso, the conservative CREO standard-bearer boasts 28.29 %.

Third-place candidate Cynthia Viteri is the only other candidate polling in double digits, with 16.37%. Results for the other five candidates are: Moncayo, 6.74%; Abdalá ‘Dalo’ Bucaram, 4.79%; Iván Espinel, 3.20%; Washington Pesantez 0.76%; and Patricio Zuquilanda, 0.76%.

President of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Juan Pablo Pozo, said that he would not announce a winner, or the candidates in a run-off, until 100% of votes are counted. “The question of whether we will have a run-off or a first vote winner is unresolved at this point,” he said. “We must be absolutely certain in any official announcement that we make.”

Guillermo Lasso at Guayaquil rally. (El Comercio)

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He added: “All results must be considered preliminary until all the votes are counted.”

Pozo said he would hold a press conference before noon Monday to announce new results.

Corporación Participación Ciudadana (PC), a non-profit organization that counts the same votes as CNE, is not so cautious and predicts a runoff between Moreno and Lasso. In calculating uncounted votes, PC uses projections from exit polls and data from previous elections and says its prediction is subject to a 1% error rate.

Early Sunday evening, PC complained that it was not receiving the cooperation from CNE that it needed but said later that the problem had been resolved.

Both Moreno and Lasso are claiming success, Moreno saying he will win on the first ballot while Lasso says he is preparing for a runoff.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will win tonight and not face a runoff,” Moreno told a cheering crowd of Alianza País supporters in Quito. “I feel confident since most of the uncounted votes are in areas where we have strong support.”

Despite the vote differential, Lasso told his followers in Guayaquil that he will win the April 2 runoff. “Ecuador is ready for a change and I am ready to lead it,” he said. “The other candidates will join with me to restore democracy and liberty to this country.”

In her concession speech, Viteri pledged her support to Lasso, saying he is only the choice “against the tyranny of Alizanza País.” In addition, Bucaram, Zuquilanda, and Washington Pesántez said they would support Lasso in a runoff.

Moncayo, a center-leftist, said he would not make an endorsement in the case of a runoff, preferring to leave the decision to his supporters.

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