Voters are expressing skepticism as candidates promise to revitalize a sluggish economy and combat growing insecurity.
Residents of Ecuador have expressed pessimism ahead of upcoming presidential elections, as the South American nation grapples with economic turmoil and growing difficulties. crime and insecurity.
The multitude of candidates running for president On August 20, they promised to revitalize Ecuador’s economy, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and combat rising violence.
But a lack of job opportunities and growing insecurity – linked in part to increased activity by criminal groups – have pushed increasing numbers of people to flee. leave Ecuador and look for opportunities elsewhere.
“We are really tired of the false promises from the authorities, the hopes are zero,” Jefferson Goyburo, a 48-year-old taxi driver from the port city of Guayaquil, whose son Luis, 21, left for ‘Spain. agency.
“Sometimes I want to cry because there is no work or security for anyone in this country.”
Past President Guillermo Lassoa banker who scored a surprise election victory in 2021, called early elections in May to avoid his possible impeachment by the legislature.
Lasso had pledged to create two million jobs, but his government says 500,000 new jobs were created during his two years of administration.
The main candidates in the August elections have proposed various solutions to the country’s economic problems, without committing to specific employment goals.
Lead candidate Luisa Gonzalez has pledged to extend tax benefits to companies that hire young people, while Indigenous candidate Yaku Perez – who finished third in the 2021 vote – said he would bring greater regulation to digital platforms.
Conservative candidates Otto Sonnenholzner and Jan Topic said they would support entrepreneurial initiatives and public works projects, respectively.
Voters, however, gave few signs that they thought either candidate would be able to improve things.
Some are voting with their feet, as around 822,000 Ecuadorians aged 18 to 45 left the country through June this year, according to the government. Around 1.4 million people have left Ecuador over the past year.
Separately, a poll conducted Tuesday by Ecuadorian polling company Click Report showed that Gonzalez, supported by former President Rafael Correa, holding 29.3 percent support. Perez held 14.4 percent while Sonnenholzner and Topic held 12.4 and 9.6 percent, respectively.
But more than 16.8 percent of likely voters said they wouldn’t vote for anyone.
None of the candidates, who must obtain more than 50 percent of the valid votes or more than 40 percent if they are 10 points ahead of their closest rival to win in the first round, included migration policy in their campaign.
A surge in violence, particularly in Ecuador’s prison system, is also at the top of voters’ concerns.
At the end of July, the government declared a state of emergency after dozens of people were killed during riots in Guayaquil prisons. Much of the violence in Ecuador’s prisons in recent years is linked to groups vying for control of drug trafficking routes, authorities said.
“These elections are unusual due to the context of intense anxiety caused by organized crime,” said Santiago Cahuasqui, a political scientist at SEK International University.
Highlighting the insecurity reigning in the country, around thirty candidates, including six of the eight presidential candidates, are under police protection. THE assassination of Agustín Intriagomayor of the town of Manta, in the province of Manabi, on Ecuador’s Pacific coast, further increased tensions last month.
As a result, security has been a focus of all presidential candidate campaigns.
Their varied proposals include building a maximum security prison in the Amazon, deploying signal jammers in prisons, better equipping police and soldiers, and imposing harsher punishments on criminals.
“This wave of violence constitutes the ideal terrain for security populism. Most candidates support a hardline strategy as the only solution,” said security expert Carla Alvarez.