As the final votes in Ecuador’s presidential race are counted, Yaku Pérez of the indigenous Pachakutik movement has built a four-tenths of one percent lead over former Guayaquil banker Guillermo Lasso with less than one-and-a-half percent of the votes to be counted. Either Pérez or Lasso will face Correista candidate Andrés Arauz, who leads all candidates at 32.17 percent, in the April 11 runoff.
According to the National Electoral Council, at 5 p.m., Pérez had 19.96 percent of the vote to Lasso’s 19.57.
CNE member José Cabrera says it could take several days to certify the second-place candidate. “In this final phase, counting is slow due to ballots that are difficult to read or contain inconsistencies but we will continue counting until we are finished,” he said. “Once the count is complete, we expect there will be challenges that the council will need to resolve before determining which candidate advances to the runoff.”
Election experts say that Pérez’s strong showing was a major surprise. Gabriela Calderón, political analyst and columnist for El Universo newspaper in Guayaquil, says she is “stunned” based on polling showing Lasso with a big lead over Pérez. “We didn’t expect this and the pollsters need to reconsider the way the compile their data,” she said. “Looking back, the strength of Xavier Hervas [who finished fourth] was also underestimated and it appears he took a large number of votes from Lasso. Because of that, Yaku Pérez is now on the verge of being elected president.”