Ecuador Vote: Leftist a Whisker From First Round Win

Lenin MorenoLenin Moreno

Leftist government candidate Lenin Moreno was within striking distance of winning the first round of Ecuador’s presidential election on Monday, as the Andean country’s electoral body counted ballots late into the night.

In a nail-biter vote with eight candidates, Moreno was close to the threshold needed to avoid an April runoff and continue a decade-long period of leftist rule, just as South America is moving to the right, Reuters reported.

While Ecuadoreans are angry over an economic downturn and corruption scandals, the opposition split its votes among candidates and the ruling Country Alliance remains popular with many poor voters, thanks to social welfare programs.

As results trickled in from Ecuador’s Andes, jungle and Pacific coast, Moreno, a disabled former vice president, was just short of the 40% of valid votes to win outright.

He had 38.88% of valid votes versus 28.50% for Guillermo Lasso, with 80.9% of votes counted, the official preliminary election count shows, and appeared to slowly be inching up.

Government supporters said votes from pro-government provinces and Ecuadoreans abroad would propel Moreno, 63, to victory.

The ex-banker Lasso has said he will end WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s asylum in Ecuador’s London Embassy.

Assange is taking refuge there for fear of extradition to the United States for publishing leaked documents that embarrassed Washington.

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