Elections in Ecuador: Gonzalez vs. Noboa

2023 10 12 ECUADOR ELECTION scaled
A combination picture shows Ecuadorean presidential candidates Luisa Gonzalez and Daniel Noboa attending an event, in Quito, Ecuador October 12, 2023. REUTERS/Karen Toro

Daniel Noboa, who spent his childhood accompanying his father in his five unsuccessful presidential campaigns in Ecuador, is now holding up his own political bid on a platform focused on job creation. The 35-year-old, originally from Guayaquil and heir to his family’s banana business empire, is competing against Luisa Gonzalez, a protégé of former President Rafael Correa in the upcoming election.

Gonzalez secured a 34% victory in the initial round in August, while Noboa surprisingly came in second with 23%. Subsequent polls indicate a closely contested second round on October 15.

The election campaign has been marred by violence and threats directed at candidates, including the tragic murder of Fernando Villavicencio, an anti-corruption advocate who was shot and killed while leaving a rally a few months ago.

Noboa has distanced himself from his father’s populist rhetoric, instead focusing on proposals to attract foreign investments and promote the growth of Ecuador’s business sector, which has garnered support from investors. He has pledged to create jobs, especially for the youth, and has actively campaigned at universities, given that a significant quarter of Ecuador’s voters are aged 29 or younger.

Ecuador’s economy has faced difficulties in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an increase in crime, which President Guillermo Lasso attributes to disputes between drug-trafficking groups. Noboa has promised to boost employment by investing in strategic sectors and providing vocational training for job seekers. He left his position in his family’s corporation to enter politics and secured a legislative seat in 2021, and has also vowed to establish a new intelligence unit to combat gangs, equip security forces with tactical weapons, and house the most dangerous criminals on prison ships at sea.

His contender, the 45-year-old Luisa Gonzalez, a lawyer with a deep admiration for former President Rafael Correa, is striving to bring his Citizens’ Revolution Party back to power. Gonzalez’s strong support for Correa’s social spending has earned her a lead in the polls, with 34% of the vote in the initial round.

Gonzalez first met Correa at a government event in the city of Riobamba and later worked for his presidency, rising to lead two government secretariats and being elected to the legislature in 2021. While Correa resides in Belgium after being sentenced to eight years in prison on corruption charges, Gonzalez has stated that she wouldn’t pardon him but would seek his counsel on economic matters. She has campaigned on increasing social spending and improving security forces, intelligence systems, and control over prisons, ports, and airports with military assistance. She also plans to utilise $2.5 billion from Ecuador’s international reserves to support the economy. If elected, she will become Ecuador’s first female president.


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