Lasso Ecuador takes a presidential runoff vote

QUITO, (Reuters) – Ecuadorean banker Guillermo Lasso won yesterday’s presidential runoff vote against left-wing economist Andres Arauz, putting the country on track to uphold open market policies rather than return to socialism.

Arauz admitted defeat after receiving 47.5% of the votes compared to Lasso’s 52.5%, with 97% of voting statements processed, according to figures published by the National Electoral Council.

In a speech to his supporters, Arauz said he would call Lasso and offer his congratulations on the electoral victory. The elections council is expected to speak at 10:00 pm local time (0300 GMT).

“It’s a day where all Ecuadorians have decided their future, they have used their vote to express the need for change and the desire for better days,” Lasso said at a rally where jubilant supporters chanted “President Lasso! ”

Lasso’s victory will be welcomed by foreign investors who were not motivated by Arauz’s promises of vast social spending in the face of weak government funding and a tough economy.

It also enlivens a trend of left-wing electoral victories in Latin America in nations including Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

Lasso will take office on May 24.

The economy of the oil exporting nation was already weak due to low crude prices when the outbreak of coronavirus began. The pandemic has pushed a third of the population of more than 17 million into poverty and left half a million people unemployed.

President Lenin Moreno, who did not seek re-election, imposed painful austerity measures as part of a $ 6.5 billion funding agreement with the International Monetary Fund, but failed to boost the economy.

Election council figures show 1.6 million null votes, likely due to native activist Yaku Perez calling on supporters to spoil their votes.

Perez ran in the first-round vote in February and narrowly lost to Lasso for a slot in the runoff, which he attributed to electoral fraud although he did not present evidence.