Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

What Will Daniel Noboa’s Presidency Mean for Ecuador?

Photo of Noboa Daniel Noboa, pictured voting on Sunday, was elected Ecuador’s president. At age 35, he is to become the country’s youngest-ever president when he takes office next month

Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old heir to a banana fortune, was elected Ecuador’s president on Sunday, defeating Luisa González, a leftist protégé of former President Rafael Correa. With 97 percent of the ballots counted, Noboa won 52 percent of the vote, as compared to 48 percent for González, who conceded. What are the main reasons behind Noboa’s victory, and which issues resonated most with voters? What can Ecuadoreans expect of his presidency? How well will Noboa be able to work with the country’s newly elected National Assembly?

Julio Carrión, professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware: “Daniel Noboa’s victory represents the half of the country that is not thrilled by the prospect of a return of correístas to power. At a time where citizen insecurity and economic issues are major concerns, this election was about change. Luisa González faced the major obstacle that many populist parties confront after ruling. The platform of returning to a (supposedly better) past does not appeal to voters who want change. Noboa is an outsider with no political experience beyond his short stint as member of the National Assembly, but he is not an unknown figure. He is the son of a rich and prominent father who unsuccessfully ran for president five times. Daniel Noboa’s youth, mild-mannered demeanor and lack of strong ideological definition offered voters a respite from the highly polarized Ecuador during and after the Correa years. Noboa, however, faces enormous challenges. His term is only 18 months, and very soon he will have to decide whether to run for re-election. He needs quick policy successes, but it is hard to see where he can achieve them. Fighting organized crime and improving citizen security with a weak state is a tall order. Delivering on his promises of more jobs seems out of reach with a sluggish economy that is expected to grow by only 1.4 percent in 2023, according to the IMF. Finally, there is the hard political reality of power distribution in the National Assembly where correístas hold almost 40 percent of the seats, and the rest are highly fragmented. Knitting together a workable congressional majority without giving the impression of resorting to traditional horse trading will be his most immediate challenge.”

Grace Jaramillo, professor at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University: “Daniel Noboa’s victory follows a long-established pattern since Ecuador’s democracy was re-established in 1979: the appeal of the outsider candidate. From Jaime Roldós in 1979, Ecuadoreans have opted for the candidate who has not achieved office before, who has built a new message or a new campaign promise. Only Rafael Correa won re-election twice, first in 2008 after a new constitution was approved and then in 2013, but his antics calling for vengeance against his political opponents and the press including after the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, tarnished the possibilities of the also relatively novel Luisa González in the Ecuadorean political landscape. Noboa won by distancing himself from the correísmo/anti-correísmo cleavage that has pervaded Ecuadorean politics in the last eight years, an appeal that is particularly important when 60 percent of the electorate is younger than 40. Clearly, most voters want to turn the page on polarization and hope that Noboa represents a clean slate to control the main crisis Ecuador is facing: criminal violence that is widespread in the main cities of the country and many rural areas. Insecurity has also had a significant impact on the economy, but he needs to move quickly in both areas to be effective. It might be achievable in the 18 months that Noboa will have in office if he pragmatically builds a national unity cabinet that helps him negotiate priorities and a working bloc in the newly elected National Assembly. It is a necessary step for a president who only has 13 representatives on his own and needs the concurrence of many other political organizations to pass urgent fiscal reforms. But time is of the essence. If he is unable to deliver results, the prospects of his re-election in just 15 months will be forsaken. Hopefully the newly elected president and lawmakers understand the urgency of the moment and the deep crisis in which Ecuador finds itself.”

Abelardo Pachano, president of Finanview in Ecuador and former Ecuadorean central bank president: “Daniel Noboa offered Ecuador political renovation, youth, hope and contrast in the face of political violence with a simple and nonconfrontational discourse. He has a clear popular mandate to resolve a very complex national reality whose first obligation is to offer the country governance that decides the enormous difficulties and challenges of a magnitude that few understand. Noboa must reach a minimum and reasonable understanding with the National Assembly to make viable those fundamental reforms that require two national fronts: the severe and urgent defunding of the fiscal sector, which is a threat to the monetary system, and with it, to achieve a response from private investment whose motivation will improve the conditions of the national labor market. He needs more time to carry out a program with visible results. President-elect Noboa must act urgently to make changes that will consolidate growth and sustainable development. Let’s hope he can do it. Let us hope that the political parties understand Ecuador’s adverse circumstances and offer support to overcome them. The challenge is enormous. The difficulties are prominent and well-known. Political fragmentation is a fence of significant proportions, and let us hope it stops playing that destructive role.”

Santiago Mosquera, head of research at Analytica Investments in Quito: “Ecuador held a crucial runoff election on Sunday, characterized by a sense of peace and stability, as no major disruptions or controversies marred the process. Official results began trickling in shortly after 5:30 p.m. and the definitive outcome was officially announced at 9 p.m., confirming Daniel Noboa of Alliance ADN as the victor. This marked a significant setback for correísmo, as it was its second consecutive loss in a runoff election. Nevertheless, it is essential to acknowledge that the political movement founded by former President Rafael Correa remains a potent and influential force in the country’s political landscape. In her concession speech, candidate Luisa González extended an olive branch, expressing correísmo’s willingness to cooperate and support Noboa’s initiatives aimed at improving the living conditions of Ecuadorean citizens. However, she also emphasized their commitment to closely monitor the new administration’s delivery on the promises made during the campaign. There is a possibility that Noboa may seek to build a governing coalition, potentially involving the Social Christian Party and correísmo. However, it is unlikely that he would be willing to make significant concessions in exchange for their support. The future will reveal the dynamics of this evolving political landscape and the potential collaborations that may shape Ecuador’s governance.”

Latin America Advisor logo.The Latin America Advisor features Q&A from leaders in politics, economics, and finance every business day. It is available to members of the Dialogue’s Corporate Program and others by subscription.

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