Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old businessman from a wealthy family of banana exporters, has won the presidential runoff election in Ecuador with a promise to tackle the rising violence, corruption and unemployment in the country. He defeated Luisa González, a leftist lawyer and protégé of former president Rafael Correa, by a margin of about five percentage points.
A historic victory for Noboa
Noboa, who belongs to the National Democratic Action party, will become the youngest president in Ecuador’s history when he takes office on November 25. He will also be the first president from the coastal region of the country since 1996.
Noboa’s victory is historic not only because of his age and origin, but also because he managed to overcome the political polarization that has marked Ecuadorian politics for more than a decade. He appealed to voters across the ideological spectrum with his moderate and pragmatic approach, as well as his focus on economic recovery and social inclusion.
He also capitalized on the discontent with the outgoing president Guillermo Lasso, who dissolved the congress in May amid an impeachment trial and called for early elections. Lasso’s unpopular measures, such as raising taxes and cutting subsidies, sparked protests and social unrest in the country.
Noboa thanked his supporters and said he would work for “a new Ecuador” that is free of violence, corruption and hate. He also reached out to his rival González and offered her his collaboration for the sake of national unity. González conceded defeat and congratulated Noboa, saying she would respect the will of the people and support the new president.
A short but challenging term for Noboa
Noboa will face many challenges during his short but crucial term, which will last only 17 months until May 2025. He will have to deal with a severe economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, that has left more than a third of the population in poverty and unemployment.
He will also have to address the security situation in the country, which has deteriorated due to the increase in drug trafficking and gang violence. Ecuador has become one of the most violent countries in Latin America, with a homicide rate higher than Mexico’s. The election campaign was marred by the assassination of another candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, an anti-corruption journalist who was killed in August.
Noboa has proposed several measures to boost the economy and create jobs, such as tax exemptions and incentives for new businesses, attracting more foreign investment, improving public services and infrastructure, and promoting tourism and agriculture. He has also pledged to crack down on crime and corruption, by strengthening the police and military forces, moving the most dangerous criminals to prison ships off the coast, installing scanners at the borders and ports to intercept drug shipments, and punishing corrupt officials.
A new era for Ecuador?
Noboa’s election represents a shift in Ecuador’s political landscape, which has been dominated by Correa and his allies since 2007. Correa, who lives in exile in Belgium after being convicted of corruption charges, tried to influence the election through his protégé González, who promised to restore his socialist policies and grant him amnesty.
However, Correa’s influence seems to have waned, as many voters rejected his divisive and authoritarian style of governance. Noboa has vowed to respect the democratic institutions and the rule of law, as well as to maintain good relations with other countries in the region and beyond.
Noboa has also expressed his willingness to cooperate with other political forces in the congress, where no party has a majority. He has said he will seek consensus and dialogue with all sectors of society, including indigenous groups, workers’ unions, environmentalists, women’s organizations, and human rights defenders.
Noboa’s election could mark the beginning of a new era for Ecuador, one that is more peaceful, prosperous and inclusive. However, he will have to overcome many obstacles and resistances along the way. He will also have to prove himself as a capable and trustworthy leader who can deliver on his promises and meet the expectations of millions of Ecuadorians who have placed their hopes in him.